Macron warns against shunning China

BEIJING: French Pres­ident Emmanuel Macron said Europe must resist reducing trade and diplomatic ties with China as he began a state visit, seeking to refute any sense there was an “inescapable spiral” of tension between Beijing and the West.

Macron said maintaining dialogue with China was key given its close relations with Russia, which is waging a war in Ukraine. Asked about Western concerns Beijing might be considering sending arms to Moscow, Macron said any nation that did so would be complicit in a breach of international law.

“China’s interest isn’t to have a lasting war,” Macron said.

On his first trip to China since 2019, Macron spoke to U.S. President Joe Biden before the visit about eng­aging Chinese President Xi Jinping to hasten the end of the Ukraine war, though Washington is sceptical toward Beijing’s peace plan.

“We hear increasingly loud voices expressing a strong concern about the future of relations between the West and China that in some form lead to the conclusion that there is an inescapable spiral of mounting tensions,” Macron told reporters at the French Embassy in Beijing.

There is also an impression that de-coupling from the Chinese economy is already underway and that the only remaining question is over pace and intensity, he added.

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“I do not believe, in any case I do not want to believe, in this scenario.” Macron arrived ahead of Ursula von der Leyen, who will join the French leader on her first visit to China since becoming European Comm­ission president more than three years ago.

Last week she said the EU must “de-risk” ties with Beijing, including limiting Chinese access to sensitive technology and reducing reliance on China for key inputs.

Europe’s relations with China have soured in recent years first due to a stalled investment pact in 2021 and then Beijing’s refusal to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

De-risking did not mean severing trade ties with China, Macron later told reporters.

There is no contradiction in reducing Europe’s dependence on China in strategic sectors such as telecoms and increasing business links in other areas, Macron added.

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