Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Xi Gets Set To Meet Macron In Paris

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FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

President Xi will meet with President Macron in Paris. Macron is expected to press the Chinese president to push for an end to the war in Ukraine and crack down on trade imbalances. Analysts have little hope that either aim will be fulfilled or that tensions between Europe and China will be reduced.

Xi will visit France, Serbia, and Hungary from May 5-10. He is due to arrive at around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT). His official meetings will include joint talks with Macron and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

President Macron has been pushing the Chinese president from last year on Ukraine, with little progress so far. So far, Xi has done little in this regard, but for making a call to President Zelensky in April last year. Zelensky hailed the talks as “long and meaningful” but little else came out of this.

“China being one of Russia’s main partners, our objective is to use the leverages it has on Moscow to change Russia’s calculations and help contribute to solving the conflict,” an adviser at the Elysee said.

On the trade front, France will seek to make progress on opening the Chinese market to its agricultural exports and resolve issues around the French cosmetic industry’s concerns about intellectual property rights. However, its influence may be limited in this regard.

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France and China have engaged in tit-for-tat trade investigations, which has made the task more complicated. France is backing a European Union probe into Chinese electric vehicle exports, and in January Beijing opened an investigation into imports of brandy – which is mostly made in France – a move widely seen as tit-for-tat retaliation amid a growing set of EU probes.

A French diplomatic source said: “If the Chinese seek to deepen the relationship with European partners, it is really important that they hear our point of view and start taking it seriously.”

Divisions within the EU – and in particular between France and Germany – undermine their ability to influence China. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not join Macron and Xi in Paris due to prior commitments, sources said.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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