President Xi Jinping’s Visit to France: A Complex Diplomatic Dance

President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Paris is poised to be a delicate dance of diplomacy, with French President Emmanuel Macron facing the challenge of addressing trade imbalances while also nudging China to use its influence on Russia amidst the conflict in Ukraine. However, this task is far from easy, given the backdrop of growing trade tensions between Europe and China. France’s support for an EU investigation into Chinese electric vehicle exports and Beijing’s retaliatory probe into French brandy imports have further strained relations.

Within the European Union, divisions between member states, particularly France and Germany, pose a significant obstacle to presenting a unified front on issues related to China. With German Chancellor Olaf Scholz unable to join President Macron and President Xi in Paris, the EU’s ability to exert leverage is undermined. Noah Barkin, an expert on EU-China relations, emphasizes the importance of sending consistent messages to Xi for any negotiation strategy to be effective.

During Xi’s visit, key agenda items for France include seeking greater market access for its agricultural exports in China and addressing concerns within the French cosmetic industry regarding intellectual property rights. At the same time, France is keen on leveraging China’s influence to pressure Russia into resolving the conflict in Ukraine. Despite some progress, notably Xi’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy following Macron’s visit to Beijing, the road ahead remains challenging.

President Macron’s decision to take Xi to the Pyrenees, a place of personal significance for the Chinese leader, reflects his strategy of establishing a personal rapport with foreign counterparts. This approach, aimed at building trust and fostering dialogue, underscores Macron’s charm offensive in international relations. However, analysts caution against placing excessive hope on symbolic gestures influencing Beijing’s geopolitical calculations.

President Xi Jinping’s visit to France carries implications beyond bilateral relations, touching on wider issues of trade, geopolitics, and diplomacy within the EU. As Macron navigates the complexities of engaging with China on multiple fronts, the stakes are high, with the need for unity and strategic clarity paramount in addressing shared challenges and opportunities in the global arena.


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