KazPost

Kazakhstan News
Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024

French and European leaders visit China, the 'systemic rival'

French and European leaders visit China, the 'systemic rival'

French President Emmanuel Macron is in China for a four-day visit, hoping to dissuade Beijing from directly supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The French leader won't want to alienate a crucial trade and geopolitical player. Macron is accompanied by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

France endorsed the EU characterisation of China as a "systemic rival" in 2019. Paris has criticised Beijing on its human rights policy, especially in Xinjiang, and has allowed semi-official delegations to visit nationalist Taiwan. French vessels take part in military exercises aimed at deterring China's warships in the South China sea and beyond.

France is worried about President Xi Jinping's closeness to Russia's Vladimir Putin and the fact that Beijing refuses to mediate in the conflict while buying massive amounts of Russian gas and oil.

According to Jean-Pierre Cabestan, an Emeritus Professor at the Baptist University in Hong Kong, Paris also worries about China's increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific, where France has a number of territories, including New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

"We do cooperate on a number of issues like climate change," Cabestan says,"but there's also a lot of economic competition."

The "geopolitical tensions are affecting this relationship."


Six decades of diplomacy


Next year, China and France will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations.

Paris broke the bond with Taiwan in 1964, between two of mainland China's most dramatic political upheavals, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Why did Paris stage this raprochement at that time?

"It was the time of President Charles de Gaulle," says Cabestan. "Both China and France were questioning their ties to the two global power blocs," Soviet and American.

Cabestan adds that the change "didn't bring much to France, because two years later, Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution," and the ensuing chaos put a hold on any diplomatic activity.

Interestingly, a number of French intellectuals, led by Jean-Paul Sartre, admired China's interpretation of socialism.

French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre travelled to China in 1955.


"The (French) mindset of the time was very radical, influenced by socialist ideas," says Cabestan, and it was influenced by a critical attitude towards Moscow's politics.

"So there was an expectation that the Chinese would come with another model of socialism, better than Khrushchev's Soviet Union," adding that in the end, the Parisian intellectuals "were disappointed" when it appeared that the Cultural Revolution amounted to chaos and millions of deaths.

"They didn't know anything about what was happening in China.They hoped that China would offer an alternative to the Soviet model, but in fact, it was even worse in terms of economic development, human rights, and authoritarianism," Cabestan believes.


Tragedy in Tiananmen


Relations flourished after China opened up to the outside world in 1978 and big-brand French companies such as Framatome, Renault, Danone and Maxim's started to invest massively in joint venture operations.

But the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown soured the ties, and French companies started to put their hopes on Taiwan.

"There was a window of opportunity after Tiananmen with Taiwan trying to increase its arms procurement," according to Cabestan.

Under Socialist President François Mitterrand, Paris took the opportunity to sell Lafayette class frigates and 60 Mirage 2000 jets to Taiwan. But the window closed quickly when China started its own boycott of French companies.

Taiwan Air Force Mirage fighter jets taxi on a runway at an airbase in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.


Military sales to Taiwan were suspended under right-wing Prime Minister Eduard Balladur, allowing French companies to get back into the Chinese market again.

Paris and Taipei maintain 'trade representative offices" and there's currently a "very dynamic economic and cultural relationship with Taiwan," but Cabestan insists that "China is much more important for France now than Taiwan."


A relationship under strain


Today, the relationship is threatened by Xi Jinping's hard line against minorities such as the Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols, and by Beijing's determination to extend its influence in the South China Sea and beyond.

"Beijing feels the need to reconnect," according to Cabestan. China has been isolated for three years as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic. The flurry of visits also shows "China's willingness to reach out the West and particularly Europeans" and to "resume some kind of channel of communication with the US".

Cabestan is not optimistic. "The environment is much, much more difficult" than before 2019.

Still, Macron and the head of the EU Commission have decided to focus on reducing risks. They will seek practical and discreet solutions to reduce tensions, without harming China's prospects for the future.

Flags of France and China flutter in front of Tiananmen Gate during French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to China, in Beijing, China January 8, 2017


President Macron will meet French residents in Beijing before holding discussions with Chinese leaders and attending a state dinner on Thursday.

On Friday, he will travel to Guangzhou to meet local students.

Macron will be accompanied by a cultural delegation including electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre, who was the first western musician to stage a pop concert in the People's Republic of China in 1981.

Newsletter

Related Articles

KazPost
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
An Ominous Shift in Warfare: Western Powers Risk War Crimes and Violate International Norms with Cluster Bomb Supply to Ukraine
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
Corruption in the European Parliament - Business as usual
UK Crypto and Stablecoin Regulations Become Law as Royal Assent is Granted
Paris Suburb Grapples with Violence as Curfew Imposed: Saint-Denis Residents Express Dismay and Anger
A Delaware city wants to let businesses vote in its elections
Alef Aeronautics Achieves Historic Milestone with Flight Certification for World's First Flying Car
Google Blocked Access to Canadian News in Response to New Legislation
French Politicians Advocate for Pan-European Regulation on Social Media Influencers
×