Xi Jinping Makes Decisive Visit to France

Chinese President Xi Jinping began his first visit to Europe since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic on May 6, amid tremendous financial and geopolitical turbulence worldwide, and the acute danger of world war. Beginning in France, his trip will also take him to Serbia and Hungary. By all accounts, both from China-bashers and from those in favor of cooperation, this visit will have a crucial impact on future Sino-European relations.

The occasion for the invitation to France is the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, a historic decision taken at the time by President Charles de Gaulle, and the first major Western power to do so. In media coverage throughout Europe, there have been many references to de Gaulle’s fierce defense of detente and entente, and to a Europe of fully sovereign states from the Atlantic to the Urals.

One can only hope that that message has been heard by President Macron, whose provocative statements against Russia and calls for a war economy in the EU have exploded these past weeks, and whose submission to the transatlantic financial oligarchy is well known.

Xi Jinping has undoubtedly delivered a similar message to the French President and government. It is too early to report on any concrete results from his visit to France. However, it is basically excluded that Emmanuel Macron succeeded in driving a wedge between China and Russia, or in changing Beijing’s development policies for the Global South. The Chinese leader, on the other hand, may have been more successful in convincing Macron of the dangers of his policies.

One day before his arrival in Paris, Xi wrote an op-ed for Le Figaro titled “I Come to France with Three Messages from China”. First, to help radiate the state of mind that brought about the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, and to promote together peace and development throughout the world. Second, to expand China’s high-level economic openings to France and other countries. Growth is expected at 5.2% in 2023, and in that context China is ready to import more agricultural products and cosmetics from France.

Third, China will work with France to preserve peace and stability in the world. In this context, he recalled the role of Zhou Enlai, a well-known figure in France, where he studied and later collaborated with Pierre Mendès-France to end the Indochina War in 1954, and elaborated for the first time such principles as the respect of sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-aggression and non-interference in the affairs of other countries, principles which China has been applying ever since. In this context Xi recalled the proposals he has made for the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative.

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