Emmanuel Macron arrives in China with his sights set on Ukraine

The French president landed in Beijing with the three-way meeting on Ukraine tomorrow with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and that of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as the main appointment on the agenda.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beijing this Wednesday (04.05.2023) on a visit in which he wants to discourage China from supporting Russia in Ukraine and strengthen ties with one of its main trading partners. The plane that transported the French president, along with the rest of his delegation, landed at the airport in the Chinese capital at around 3:15 pm local time (09:15 CET).

Macron intends to be firm on the Ukrainian issue in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but at the same time offer “another path” to the confrontational tone often heard from the United States, his office told reporters. The trilateral meeting tomorrow Thursday on the Ukrainian War with Xi, in which the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will also participate, captures international interest.

An agenda beyond Ukraine

Macron also wants to seek a better balance in trade balance between China and Europe and safeguard France’s interests in the Pacific region, where it has overseas territories. In the first activity on his schedule, he will deliver a speech from the French embassy to the French community living in China, before heading to the Red Brick Museum for the opening of a Sino-French cultural festival.

For Thursday, apart from the trilateral meeting, both European leaders will hold bilateral meetings with Xi and with the recently appointed prime minister in the National People’s Assembly (ANP, equivalent to a Legislative Assembly) last March, Li Qiang. In addition, Macron will also have a meeting with the president of the ANP, Zhao Leji, while Von der Leyen will do the same with the president of the EU-China chamber of Commerce and representatives of European companies in the country.

Western coordination

Before leaving, Macron discussed his trip with US President Joe Biden, the White House said. The two leaders hope Beijing will help “accelerate” a solution to the war, a French diplomatic source said. The conversation showed “the common willingness of France and the United States to engage the Chinese to speed up the end of the war in Ukraine and build lasting peace,” the source added. Both presidents also hope to “obtain from China a contribution to the global effort in North-South solidarity” and build “a common agenda” on climate and biodiversity.

This trip is the second to Beijing by a European leader, after the one that the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, closed this Friday, after the Asian leader met in Moscow with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to explain his proposals for peace for the Ukrainian War and show the strength of their relationship.