Macron and von der Leyen to Meet Xi Jinping Europe’s Good Cop and Bad Cop French President Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, are scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, signaling a message of unity, despite potential cracks in Europe’s alliances that China may seek to exploit. The visit is the latest in a push from European leaders to engage with China, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who recently paid visits to China.
Macron and von der Leyen to Meet Xi Jinping
Macron and von der Leyen to Meet Xi Jinping The leaders will press Xi on taking further steps to halt the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and finessing the increasingly fraught Trade ties between the European Union and China, the EU’s largest trading partner. Macron is likely to play the good cop in engaging Vladimir Putin on the conflict, while von der Leyen may be seen as the “bad cop from Brussels” given her close ties with US President Joe Biden and vocal support for the NATO’s stance.
Macron and von der Leyen’s Meeting with Xi Jinping Highlights Europe’s Divergent Views on China and Urgent Need for Consensus
Together, the leaders represent different strands of European thinking on China. Some member states are more keen to preserve trade ties, while others want to take a harder stance. The EU has yet to come up with a clear consensus on how to handle Beijing, which could embolden China to use its relationship with Russia as leverage over Europe. It is crucial for Europe to clearly draw its own red line and lay out the consequences of China overstepping it.
Europe’s Good Cop and Bad Cop
Macron’s visit with a large delegation of business leaders suggests that there is still a commercial and economic relationship between Europe and China, even in the middle of the ongoing conflict. Dr Andrew Small, a senior fellow with think-tank the German Marshall Fund, noted that the leaders represent two “fairly different strands of European thinking on China.
” He added that “One of the topics of discussion will be China’s potential support for Putin’s war efforts, particularly regarding the supply of lethal aid. It is likely that the leaders will stress that such actions would have severe consequences for China’s relationship with Europe as a whole.
However, some observers believe that China’s goal is to exploit differences within Europe and woo parts of Europe away from the US orbit. Hence, the meeting between Macron, von der Leyen, and Xi Jinping is also a display of solidarity aimed at foiling any attempts by China to take advantage of divisions among European nations.
It is also noteworthy that von der Leyen is in China at Macron’s invitation, providing reassurance that they would hold the line, not only to EU member states skeptical of Macron’s approach to Russia, China, and the US, will be closely watched. The US has not met with Chinese leadership since Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing was canceled during the spy balloon dispute.
Europe must clearly draw its own red line and lay out the consequences of China overstepping it, said Janka Oertel, director of the Asia program at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Europe should not just follow the US and NATO’s lead, but must clearly define its own approach towards China.