Macron and von der Leyen press China's Xi on Ukraine and fair trade at Paris summit. Xi was calm

11:53 07.05.2024 •

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, China's President Xi Jinping and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend a trilateral meeting at the Elysee Palace, May 6, 2024 in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pressed Xi Jinping at a summit in Paris on Monday, May 6, pressed Xi Jinping to use Beijing's influence to halt the Russian war against Ukraine, also telling the Chinese leader to accept fair global trade rules.

Opening an initial trilateral meeting attended by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Macron said coordination with Beijing on "major crises" including Ukraine was "absolutely decisive" and urged "fair rules for all" in Europe-China trade. "The future of our continent will very clearly depend on our ability to continue to develop relations with China in a balanced manner," Macron said.

The French and EU Commission Presidents spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a trilateral meeting, kicking off Xi's two-day state visit to France with discussions of 'fair rules for all' in trade, as well as China's exports to Russia during the war in Ukraine.  

China regards Europe as a priority of its major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, Chinese President Xi Jinping said. Xi made the remarks at a China-France-EU trilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Elysee Palace, Xinhua informs.

Xi Jinping said he hopes that the EU institutions develop the right perception of China and adopt a positive China policy.

China-EU relations enjoy strong endogenous driving force and bright prospects of development, and this relationship does not target any third party, nor should it be dependent on or dictated by any third party, Xi said.

Chinese President said that China stands ready to work with France and the whole international community to find a reasonable way out of the Ukraine crisis.

Xi Jinping said that China is ready to work with the EU to support a more broad-based, authoritative and effective international peace conference on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be held as quickly as possible to set a timetable and a roadmap for the two-State solution.

He also said that China is also willing to work with the EU to promote comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question at an early date.

Xi said China and the EU should "remain partners" and "carry out strategic coordination" and thus "make new contributions to world peace and development."

Von der Leyen said she will press for "fair" competition with China in global trade, adding that in previous talks with Xi she had "made clear that the current imbalances in market access are not sustainable and need to be addressed." "We have been very clear-eyed about our relationship with China, which is one of the most complex, but also one of the most important," she said.

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." China also continued to "massively support its manufacturing sector" whose surplus production could not be absorbed by the rest of the world.

Chinese state subsidies for its electric vehicle and steel industries pose a serious threat to European industries and could even lead to "de-industrialization in Europe," von der Leyen said, in comments made public.

"China is currently manufacturing, with massive subsidies, more than it is selling due to its own weak domestic demand," von der Leyen said. "This is leading to an oversupply of Chinese subsidized goods, such as EVs [electric vehicles] and steel, that is leading to unfair trade," she added.

Von der Leyen said "current imbalances in market access are not sustainable and need to be addressed."

The European Commission announced last year that it would examine possible tariffs on electric cars from China. Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD has signed a deal to begin manufacturing cars in Hungary, where Xi will end his European trip on Friday.

Von der Leyen emphasized that the EU is not seeking to "decouple from China," describing Europe's relationship with China as "one of the most complex, but also one of the most important."

A key priority of Macron will be to warn Xi of the danger of backing Russia, with Western officials concerned that, while officially neutral in the Ukraine conflict, China is essentially backing Russia which is already using Chinese machine tools in arms production. Beijing's ties with Moscow have, if anything, warmed after the invasion and the West wants China above all not to supply weapons to Russia and risk tipping the balance in the conflict.

"It is in our interest to get China to weigh in on the stability of the international order," Macron said in an interview with British newspaper The Economist published on Thursday. Like von der Leyen, Macron also said in the same interview that trade was a priority in the talks, underscoring that Europe must defend its "strategic interests" in its economic relations with China.

In an op-ed for the French newspaper Le Figaro, Xi said he wanted to work with the international community to find ways to resolve the conflict sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while emphasising that China was "neither a party nor a participant." "We hope that peace and stability will return quickly to Europe, and intend to work with France and the entire international community to find good paths to resolve the crisis," he wrote…

The meeting in Paris took place on the same day the Kremlin announced Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered nuclear drills. The exercises were in response to statements by Western countries about sending troops into Ukraine, Moscow added. Macron said last week that his country would consider sending ground troops to Ukraine if Kyiv requests backup.

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


read more in our Telegram-channel