Macron takes Xi to French mountains to discuss Ukraine, trade

Macron takes Xi to French mountains to press messages on Ukraine, trade

/ 11:16 AM May 07, 2024

Macron takes Xi to French mountains to press messages on Ukraine, trade

France’s President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during presentations ahead of an official state dinner as part of the Chinese president’s two-day state visit to France, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on May 6, 2024. The French president hosts his Chinese counterpart for a state visit on May 6, 2024, seeking to persuade the Chinese leader to shift positions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and also imbalances in global trade. Agence France-Presse

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday is to host Chinese leader Xi Jinping at one of his beloved childhood haunts in the Pyrenees mountains, seeking to press a message to Beijing not to support Russia’s war against Ukraine and to accept fairer trade.

The first day of Xi’s state visit to France, his first to Europe since 2019, saw respectful but sometimes robust exchanges between the two men during a succession of talks on Monday.


Macron, joined initially by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, urged Xi not to allow the export of any technology that could be used by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and to do all it could to end the war.


READ: China’s Xi Jinping in France for Macron talks on Ukraine

Xi for his part warned the West not to “smear” China over the conflict and also hit back at accusations that Chinese overcapacity was causing global trade imbalances.

The fresh mountain air at the village of Bagnere-de-Bigorre and the adjacent resort of La Mongie, as well as lunch accompanied by their wives Peng Liyuan and Brigitte Macron, will allow Xi and Macron to explore these issues in relative intimacy.

While born and brought up in Amiens in the north of France, the young “Manu” spent numerous winter and summer holidays with his late maternal grandparents in the area just below the Col du Tourmalet, over 2,000 metres (6,560 feet) above sea level and a legendary climb in the Tour de France.

Xi is expected to dine on local lamb, cheeses and wines in an environment the president hopes will help the pair get to the heart of the most pressing issues.

‘Count on China’

Europe is concerned that while officially neutral over the Ukraine conflict, China is essentially backing Russia, which is using Chinese machine tools in arms production.


The other two countries chosen by Xi for his European tour after France — Serbia and Hungary — are seen as among the most sympathetic to Moscow in Europe.

READ: Hungary, Serbia to roll out red carpet for China’s Xi Jinping

“More effort is needed to curtail delivery of dual-use goods to Russia that find their way to the battlefield,” von der Leyen said after the trilateral talks, adding that “this does affect EU-China relations”.

She added that France and the EU also “count on China to use all its influence on Russia to end Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”, saying both Europe and China “have a shared interest in peace and security”.

After a bilateral meeting with Xi, Macron welcomed China’s “commitments” not to supply arms to Russia, while also expressing concern over possible deliveries of dual-use technology.

He thanked Xi for backing his idea of a truce in all conflicts including Ukraine during the Paris Olympics this summer and pointedly added: “We do not have an approach seeking regime change in Moscow.”

Defending China’s stance, Xi warned against using the Ukraine crisis “to cast blame, smear a third country and incite a new Cold War.”

‘Flooding European market’

Both Macron and von der Leyen have indicated that trade was a priority in the talks, underscoring that Europe must defend its “strategic interests” in its economic relations with China.

“Europe will not waver from making tough decisions needed to protect its economy and its security,” she said.

Von der Leyen said there were “imbalances that remain significant” and “a matter of great concern”, singling out Chinese subsidies for electric cars and steel that were “flooding the European market”.

READ: EU chief says will urge ‘fair’ China competition in talks with Xi

At the talks, Xi denied there was any problem of Chinese overcapacity in global trade and said China and Europe should address differences on trade through “dialogue and consultation, and accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns”, according to the foreign ministry.

France’s cognac industry, based in the southwest of the country, is meanwhile closely watching the talks, fearing that an anti-dumping investigation opened by China, its second-biggest market, is retaliation by Beijing for the trade tensions.

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Macron thanked Xi for not imposing “provisional” customs duties on French cognac amid the ongoing probe, and presented him with bottles of the expensive drink.

TAGS: China, Emmanuel Macron, France, Xi Jinping

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