He came with a gift horse for President Xi Jinping and claiming trade reciprocity to China. During his three-day stay he projected himself as most prominent voice of European Union, with a seductive style — he dazzled citizens by darting to utter mandarin phrases — and a firm discourse. He got juicy deals, particularly Chinese commitment to buy 184 Airbus 320 aircraft. And this Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron, already completely assumed role of European leader, has left asking unity of continent to respond to strength of China.
The Gallic chief of State wanted to present himself as a key interlocutor for Beijing in uncertain times when London is preparing to leave EU, Washington has become unpredictable, and Berlin is still looking for a coalition. Macron, on or hand, has just recently released its five-years; And French economy has a great appeal for Chinese consumers in sectors such as food or luxury.
To achieve its goals, French President deployed a whole range of tools. With Xi He spoke of multilateralism that both defends Chinese leader and need to combat climate change despite demarque of United States of Donald Trump. In Xi'an, first stop of his trip, he highlighted importance of new Silk Road, ambitious network of maritime and terrestrial infrastructures with which China wants to expand its influence abroad. Even in a parallel with "panda diplomacy" practiced by Beijing, it brought as a gift to a horse, Vesuvius, from stables of French Republican Guard.
But it also launched a strong appeal to cohesion of Europe to be able to deal with you to United States and to a China determined to play a leading role in world order. If EU is divided and unable to defend its strategic sectors, it will not achieve China's respect, he warned on Wednesday at closing press conference.
"China cannot respect a continent where a part of its countries open its doors completely and it is easy to buy essential infrastructures," he insisted.
China's investment in Europe has grown by leaps and bounds over past eight years. If in 2010 barely reached 1.6 billion dollars, in 2016 reached 35 billion, according to calculations of consultancy Rhodium Group. A figure that has been directed especially towards technological sector and which has allowed to create jobs and generate tax revenues. But it also begins to raise concerns about influence that Beijing can make thanks to se disbursements.
"There is concern in Brussels and many European capitals that China can exercise, or indeed has already exercised, political influence in countries where it has invested most," says a report by European Think Tanks Network on China, which includes Rea L Instituto Elcano Español.
A concern also echoed by French President: China applies "parallel diplomacy and trade rules that differ according to regions," he explained. "There is a country-by-country strategy of China, and re are divergent interests in certain" Community countries, "he added.
"He has managed to project himself as a leader determined to defend European and French interests, not only through some of his statements, but also with his personality. He is owner of a firm determination and will to promote an ambitious foreign policy and to straighten out European Union, says Alice Ekman, head of China research at French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).
During ir stay, Macron attended signing of agreements in several sectors, from energy- giant Areva will build a plant for recycling of nuclear waste-to food.
At last minute, I managed to put a gold brooch and take "yes" from Beijing to buy Airbus-320. Although amount of transaction has not been made public, its catalog value reaches 18 billion dollars. France hopes that China will also end up acquiring a-350 and a-380 aircraft.
But if it was energetic to claim in public China reciprocity for France and Europe in trade relations, it did not want to show same attitude about human rights situation in second economic power. As he said, he brought out matter but only in private. Taking colors out of Beijing in front of press, he said, "It has been done many times and has not worked."