Macron in China: the right strategy?
French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to China with a delegation of high-level managers on Monday. During his visit he wants to secure around 40 trade deals. EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan and representatives from other European governments also accompanied him. France's initiative draws praise - but also harsh criticism - from the press.
Signs of a new Ostpolitik for the EU
Handelsblatt sees Macron's visit as a sign of Europe increasingly asserting itself vis-à-vis China:
“The president's European affairs adviser Clément Beaune recently explained how France sees the situation: with 'elements of confrontation and cooperation'. ... Now Macron is demonstrating, in agreement with the German government, that the EU wants to defend European sovereignty. ... Macron wants neither a trade war like the US nor the submissiveness of the past. The EU is in the process of creating a new 'Ostpolitik'. ... Thirty years ago a similar combination of cooperation and confrontation tore down walls that were supposed to stand forever.”
The wrong solution in the long term
Macron is not thinking far enough ahead, Le Figaro criticises:
“If you want to do business you don't provoke your customer by confronting him with political rights in Hong Kong or the brutal oppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Such topics rub people up the wrong way and are supposedly reserved for private conversations in which no one loses face. ... That means forgetting that the 'Red Emperor' has taken the path of authoritarianism and general defiance towards the West. His plan is to hold up to the West a counter-model ranging from the New Silk Road to the Internet, and thus take advantage of its weaknesses and divisions. With Xi, who is completely caught up in his power struggle with Trump, the soft approach might bear fruit in the short term. But in the long term it will create a balance of power that is unfavourable for Europe.”
Date with China's most autocratic leader since Mao
Rzeczpospolita criticises the French president's strategy:
“Macron, who has declared himself the leader of the camp of liberal democracies, hasn't found the time to come to Poland even once in the last two and a half years owing to accusations that the rule of law is being violated here. But now he's meeting Xi Jinping, China's most authoritarian leader since Mao, for the sixth time. ... Macron's visit could give the Chinese the impression that they can count on trading partners other than the US, so they don't need to make any concessions to Donald Trump. But the risk is even greater, because Macron wants to convey the impression that he comes to China representing not just France, but the entire EU.”