European tour | In Paris, Xi Jinping says he wants to work to “resolve the crisis” in Ukraine

(Paris) Having barely arrived in Paris on Sunday for a state visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he wanted to “work with France and the entire international community” to “resolve the crisis” in Ukraine.

Welcomed shortly after 4 p.m. (10 a.m. Eastern time) at Orly airport by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, he will be received Monday at the Élysée by French President Emmanuel Macron, who intends to advocate “reciprocity” trade and the search for a resolution to the war in Ukraine in the face of a Chinese leader who continues to show his support for Russia.

“We hope that peace and stability will return quickly to Europe, and intend to work with France and the entire international community to find good avenues to resolve the crisis,” writes the number one of the Asian superpower in a column published by the daily Le Figaro.

Paris, for its part, wants to ensure that China, the main ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, does not fall into clear support for his war effort against Kyiv. Even “encourage it to use the levers” it has over Moscow to “contribute to a resolution of this conflict”, according to the Élysée.


Chinese President Xi Jinping and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal

Emmanuel Macron carried this same message a year ago during his own state visit to China, with modest results.

After France, the Chinese president, returning for the first time to Europe since 2019, will visit Serbia and Hungary, two countries that have remained close to Moscow.

Commercial disputes

On Monday, Xi Jinping, who is coming to celebrate 60 years of Franco-Chinese diplomatic relations, will continue meetings with Emmanuel Macron, who consulted in advance with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In the morning, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will join the Franco-Chinese duo at the Élysée for a session which should make it possible to raise trade disputes.

And they are many. Threatened with being caught between the American and Chinese economies, massively aided by public authorities, the European Union has in recent months increased investigations into Chinese state subsidies to several industrial sectors, in particular to electric vehicles, accused of distorting competition.

In an interview with The gallery Sunday, Emmanuel Macron recognizes that Europeans are “not unanimous” on the strategy to adopt because, he says, “certain players still see in China essentially a market of outlets” while it “exports massively to Europe “.

He pleads to “better protect our national security”, “be much more realistic in the defense of our interests” and “obtain reciprocity”.

In Beijing, these measures deemed “protectionist” go down badly. The Chinese authorities have launched their own anti-subsidy investigation mainly targeting French cognac, against which the French president intends to speak out.

Although no major contract was announced at this stage, discussions on investments were ongoing until the end. A Franco-Chinese economic forum is planned for Monday at the Marigny theater.

Xi Jinping assures in Le Figaro that the two countries are able to “deepen their cooperation in terms of innovation to promote green development” as is already the case with battery factories, hoping that France will offer its companies “a fair and equitable business climate”.

“Closed doors”

In the afternoon, after a formal welcome ceremony with great pomp at the Invalides, and before a banquet at the Élysée, Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping will meet face-to-face for the most political sequence, then will express in front of the press.

The Frenchman intends to ask the Chinese to support the “Olympic truce” for “all” conflicts during the Paris Games this summer, including that in Ukraine.

The French president will drive the point home on Tuesday, in the Pyrenees, during a more personal getaway between the two men, accompanied by their wives.

The objective of this lunch on the Col du Tourmalet, where, as a child, he spent his holidays with his grandmother, is eminently diplomatic: to break the imposing protocol to establish a more direct dialogue, particularly on Ukraine.

On the sensitive issue of human rights, Emmanuel Macron says he prefers to discuss “disagreements” rather “behind closed doors”. Paris also did not want to make the Taiwan issue a priority, even though it is at the heart of the strong tensions between the United States and China.

Several thousand Tibetans, according to their representatives, gathered on Sunday in Paris to protest against the visit of the Chinese president to France, a “country of human rights” which welcomes “a dictator”.


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