China’s Xi Arranging Visit to France This Spring; Move May Be Attempt to Break Encirclement Led By U.S.

Reuters file photo
French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at a meeting in Beijing on April 6, 2023.

MUNICH — Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to visit France this spring, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The envisaged visit will mark Xi’s first trip to Europe since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing intends to use the opportunity to break the encirclement of China led by the United States and some European nations, by bringing in France, which has traditionally attached great importance to its diplomatic stance.

According to Chinese government officials and diplomatic sources in Beijing, final arrangements are being made for Xi’s visit. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, is scheduled to arrive in France after attending the Munich Security Conference, which kicked off Friday, according to the sources. Wang is expected to meet his counterpart, Stephane Sejourne, and Emmanuel Bonne, a diplomatic adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, to coordinate the details of Xi’s visit, the sources said.

Xi and Macron are expected to discuss the expansion of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, as well as cooperation in third-country markets and the Paris Olympics this summer.

Since the start of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the United States and some European countries have been reinforcing efforts to reduce risk by lessening dependence on China in the economic sphere. Also in the field of diplomacy and security, the European Union last June incorporated concerns about a Taiwan contingency into its new strategy concept toward China, increasingly becoming more vigilant toward Beijing, which is authoritarian in the same way as Moscow.

France insists that Europe should diplomatically draw a line between itself and the United States. Regarding the Taiwan situation, Macron said last April that the worst thing would be that Europe follows the United States.

Under such circumstances, China is thought to hope that the strengthening of its relations with France will prevent the United States and Europe from becoming monolithic.