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Macron Urges Xi to Coordinate with Europe Amid Russia-Ukraine Crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Xi Jinping to closely coordinate with Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to adhere to fair global trade rules as the Chinese leader embarked on a state visit to France.

Xi’s first visit to Europe since 2019 also includes stops in Serbia and Hungary. While Xi has expressed a desire for peace in Ukraine, his decision to prioritize France underscores Macron’s role as a significant EU powerbroker amid the ongoing conflict.

During initial discussions attended by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Macron emphasized the importance of coordination with Beijing on major crises like Ukraine and called for equitable rules in Europe-China trade relations. Xi, in an op-ed for Le Figaro, expressed a willingness to collaborate with the international community to address the conflict in Ukraine but reiterated China’s stance of non-participation.

Von der Leyen stressed the need for fair competition with China in global trade and highlighted existing imbalances in market access that require attention. Macron’s primary concern is cautioning Xi against supporting Russia, particularly in arms production, given Western fears of Chinese assistance potentially altering the conflict’s dynamics.

Both Macron and von der Leyen emphasized the complexity and significance of the EU-China relationship, underscoring the need to safeguard Europe’s strategic interests in economic dealings with China. Macron’s approach, which rejects a bloc versus bloc confrontation between China and the US, aims to maintain Europe’s autonomy while engaging with both powers.

Human rights groups have urged Macron to address China’s violations, including the treatment of Uyghur Muslims and the imprisonment of journalists. Reporters Without Borders staged a protest highlighting press freedom concerns during Xi’s visit.

Macron plans to engage Xi in private discussions in the Pyrenees, hoping to exert influence despite skepticism about his ability to sway the Chinese leader. While Serbia and Hungary, the other stops on Xi’s tour, are viewed as more sympathetic to Moscow, Macron’s messages on trade and Ukraine are unlikely to significantly alter Chinese behavior, according to analysts.

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