Emmanuel Macron invites Xi Jinping to the Pyrenees for the end of his state visit


Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping, at Tarbes airport, Hautes-Pyrénées, May 7, 2024. AURELIEN MORISSARD / VIA REUTERS

Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping arrived on Tuesday May 7 in the Pyrenees, on the second day of the Chinese leader’s state visit, for a getaway “personal” supposed to allow a more direct dialogue on the war in Ukraine or trade disagreements.

“Our French mountains”, “I hope will continue to inspire us”launched the French president lyrically on Monday, welcoming his Chinese counterpart to Paris for the first time since 2019. He said he expected, in the Hautes-Pyrénées (South-West), “fruitful and friendly discussions”.

The plane of the Head of State and that of the Chinese President landed in Tarbes late in the morning, noted journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP). Both are expected at the Col du Tourmalet, the legendary climb of the Tour de France cycle race, where the weather is still wintery, even if the season is over at the La Mongie ski resort. Around a hundred people came to show their support for President Xi, and dozens of red flags with five yellow stars colored the edges of the road leading to the pass.

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“Olympic Truce”

Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping, accompanied by their wives, will have lunch at the restaurant of Eric Abadie, a breeder and friend of the French president. As if echoing the tea ceremony they shared last year in Canton, in the official residence where the Chinese president’s father lived when he was governor of Guangdong province. A setting, which contrasts with that of the presidential palace, in which they did not seek to hide the trade disputes between Europe and China. President Macron called for a “fair competition framework”welcoming, at the end of the discussions, having preserved French cognac from the threat of Chinese customs taxes “temporary”.

Invited to display a united continental front, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, warned that the European Union would take “firm decisions” For “protect your economy”denouncing the influx of massively subsidized Chinese electric vehicles. “The so-called “China overcapacity problem” does not exist”, Xi Jinping replied dryly. On Ukraine, he wanted to be more consensual, reaffirming his desire to work towards a political solution.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers Xi Jinping’s visit to France: China’s crucial support for Russia in the war in Ukraine at the heart of discussions

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And he gave his support to a “Olympic Truce”, advocated by Emmanuel Macron, on the occasion of the Paris Games this summer. According to a French diplomatic Source, this truce could serve, with regard to Ukraine, to initiate a more political process after more than two years of war.

But Paris, which has insisted for a year that Beijing puts pressure on Russia to help end the war, wants to “lucid” on the prospects for a rapid breakthrough. Especially since the Chinese president remains the main ally of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, whom he is due to receive soon.

“A frank and friendly exchange” criticized by the opposition

The Pyrenean stage could, in the mind of the French delegation, favor “a frank and friendly exchange” on these thorny subjects. The idea is to break the imposing protocol which accompanies the slightest movement of the Chinese number one.

This corner of the mountain is “directly linked to the very personal story” of Emmanuel Macron, explains those around him. The one who is celebrating the seven years since his first election on Tuesday spent many holidays between the town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre and La Mongie with his grandparents.

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The Socialist candidate for the European elections in June, Raphaël Glucksmann, denounced the “friendly tone” of this official visit. “The man who deports the Uighurs, who represses the Hong Kongers and the Tibetans is not our friend”, did he declare. His right-wing opponent François-Xavier Bellamy (Les Républicains) also pointed out the “interference” of Beijing and its “aggressive strategy to bring down our economy”. The head of the Macronist list, Valérie Hayer, defended the desire to have “a direct and frank dialogue”.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers Raphaël Glucksmann: “Mr Macron, so far, what have you achieved with your strategy of accommodation vis-à-vis the Chinese Communist Party? »

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The World with AFP

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