GUANGZHOU/HONG KONG, April 7 (Reuters) – China’s Xi Jinping welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron during a usual state visit, which some observers see as a sign of Beijing’s growing frustration with its request to meet key allies within the European Union. United States of America.
The two leaders visited southern China together on Friday, where Macron was due to drink Chinese tea with Xi at his father’s former residence in the city of Guangzhou, the economic and powerhouse capital of Guangdong province.
Such incursions by Xi with visiting leaders are rare. Diplomats say it is urgent that Beijing joins this relationship with a key EU member as it looks for support against what XI called “all containment, encirclement and suppression” of the US.
“All the Chinese have foreign policy scandals in the US-China relationship in the background … so working with any country, especially middle or big powers, like France is something they are trying to do against the US,” said Zhao Suisheng, a professor of Chinese studies and foreign policy at the University of Denver. .
Noah Barkin, an analyst at the Rhodium Group, said China’s main goal is to prevent Europe from getting closer to the United States.
“In this sense, Macron is perhaps Beijing’s biggest partner in Europe,” he said. Macron is often considered by diplomats to be an important key driver in the EU.
Macron traveled to China with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, as well as pressuring China on Ukraine, but no official changes from Xi.
However, Macer gave the full red carpet.
Von der Leyen, who described China as “repressive” in a critical speech before her trip, struck a lost profile in Beijing, with a low-key greeting at the airport and not attending any public functions with Xi and Macron.
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday: “It is clear to everyone that the vassal of Washington’s strategic goal is dead. The China-France bridge relationship for China-Europe cooperation is beneficial to both sides. and the world.”
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the former French prime minister, who has traveled extensively in China, told Reuters on the sidelines of the signing ceremony in the Great Hall of the People that some of the 11th had an effect.
“Is there not a reason for flattery in one way or another?” he said. “There is always something in human relations. Both sides play with it.”
In Washington, China’s diplomatic engagement with France was viewed with some skepticism.
Beyond Ukraine, China would like to see a realignment that draws it closer to Europe economically as well as relations with the United States, but such a change is unlikely at this point, said people familiar with the U.S. government’s thinking.
Washington is taking a wait-and-see approach to European engagement with Beijing over Ukraine, according to the people, who declined to be named. On Thursday, Macron urged Beijing to make sense of talking to Russia about the war in Ukraine, while von der Leyen said Xi expressed a willingness to talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Xi mentions a possible meeting with Zelenskiy in China according to his official comments after the meetings.
Barkin, the analyst, said Macron was not getting much out of the trip.
“Macron seemed to believe that the 11th rabbit could move to war,” he said. “He gave 11 a series of tasks – to announce the decoy of the trap, to carry a huge delegation of business, and to strengthen his strategic autonomy – without receiving much in return.”
Macron’s firing of China is part of a diplomatic upheaval this year, as he has been led by the United States amid tensions over Taiwan, the Ukraine war and U.S. restrictions on technology exports.
China has increased its diplomatic spending by 12.2 percent this year, and leaders and senior officials have visited Singapore, Malaysia, Spain and Japan over the past few weeks.
China helped detain the sector by surprise between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March, when Beijing touted itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East and made moves in its desire to shape a multi-polar world.
The China-EU battle will continue in the coming weeks with foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Germany’s foreign minister in Beijing.
“China and Europe can still be partners,” said Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for European Studies at Renmin University in Beijing. “Indeed, rivals or systemic competitors.”
Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Written by James Pomfret, edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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