1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Macron warns Europe must not 'dissociate' with China

April 5, 2023

The French president landed in Beijing, where he was expected to try to repair tense relations with a key trading partner. He was also set to encourage Xi Jinping to press for peace in Ukraine.

Macron spoke to the French community in Beijing
Macron spoke to the French community in BeijingImage: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron landed in China on Wednesday for a three-day visit. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was also expected to join the trip.

The leaders will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping with the objective of repairing ties with Beijing — an important economic partner.

Macron last visited China in 2019, while this is Von der Leyen's first trip in her current role.

EU chief promises 'frank dialogue' with China

Focus of the trip: trade and Russia's war

Shortly after arriving, Macron said that Europe must maintain its economic ties with China, despite unbalanced trade relations with Beijing.

"We have to somehow de-risk our industries [...] but we must not disassociate and separate ourselves," he said.

The French president also highlighted that China could play a major role in finding a "path to peace" in Ukraine.

"China, with its close relationship with Russia, which has been reaffirmed in recent days, can play a major role." At his address to French citizens in Beijing, Macron said France would engage "in this shared responsibility for peace and stability."

Speaking to journalists after his remarks, Macron said: "We have decided since the beginning of the conflict to help the victim, and we have also made it very clear that anyone helping the aggressor would be an accomplice in breach of international law."

The bulk of the visit will focus on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and include difficult trade talks, as well as climate-related issues.

Macron was expected to warn China against sending arms to Russia and to ask that the country use its influence to help peace efforts.

What else is on the agenda?

On Thursday, Macron will have meetings with the head of the National People's Congress, Zhao Leji, and China's Premier Li Qiang, in addition to a meeting and a state dinner with Xi in the presence of von der Leyen.

French President Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands.
French President Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping will attempt to reset ties. Image: Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, President Xi and a delegation of top politicians, business leaders and celebrities will accompany Macron on a trip to the sprawling southern port of Guangzhou, where the first French ship reached Chinese shores in the 17th century.

The French president will answer questions there from some of the 1,000 Chinese students at Sun Yat-Sen University.

Later in the day, Macron will attend a private dinner and tea ceremony with Xi and then meet Chinese investors.

Macron speaks to Biden over a call

Ahead of the visit, Macron and US President Joe Biden discussed the Beijing trip over a phone call.

Macron's office on Wednesday said that the leaders discussed a way to engage China to hasten the end of the war in Ukraine.

Xi Jinping ends three-day visit to Moscow

"The two leaders have mentioned their joint willingness to engage China to accelerate the end of the war in Ukraine and take part in building sustainable peace in the region," said The Elysee Palace.

Beijing has said it is neutral on the war, but also emphasizes its "no-limits friendship" with Russia. China's President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month.

Macron and Biden also hope that China can contribute to solidarity efforts between the global north and global south to build a joint agenda for climate and biodiversity, said Macron's office.

vh, ns/es (Reuters, AFP)