Can China Make Peace in Ukraine? Macron Isn't Saying No.

The French president hopes Beijing can be useful in pressing Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Can China Make Peace in Ukraine? Macron Isn't Saying No.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday. He is determined to give Europe a unique role that will avoid America's confrontation against an assertive China and that China has a part in ending Ukraine's war.

After being rebuffed by his attempts to convince President Vladimir V. Putin to end the long-running war in Russia, Mr. Macron turned to China, the 'only country in the entire world that can change Moscow's calculus on Ukraine', according to one diplomat.

The official who asked to remain anonymous in accordance with French diplomatic practices said that only China could have a game-changing effect. We know that China will not condemn Russia. But the president has been working hard to find ways to be helpful to Ukrainians with China.

It's unclear what Mr. Macron is trying to say. China has never condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The word "war" has not been used to describe Russia's invasion. It has embraced a no limits,' anti-Western alliance with Moscow. This was cemented by the visit of President Xi Jinping to Russia last month and the joint declaration that a new era' would be free of what both countries view as American dominance.

The French leader is known to be a needle threader. He seems to have detected enough Chinese unease over Mr. Putin’s war that he can use diplomatic ingenuity.


Putin admitted in September that China has raised 'questions' and 'concerns' regarding the war. China, unlike Mr. Putin is not interested nuclear saber rattling. It has also not shut the door to the suggestion made last month by Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, that China might 'become partners' in the search for a solution.

The United States have dismissed any Chinese involvement in Ukrainian peacekeeping. The United States dismissed a vague 12-point Chinese peace plan presented in February. On the day before he left for Beijing, Mr. Macron called President Biden and they discussed 'their common desire to include China in the acceleration of an end to the conflict in Ukraine'.

There are still clear differences in the approaches to China. For Mr. Macron who is obsessed with the idea of Europe becoming a global force, taking his own independent stance has a powerful political appeal.

He criticised the Biden administration for its tough stance on China, and he believes that any decoupling or 'delinking' would be bad for Europe given the huge economic interests involved. German automakers are heavily dependent on the Chinese market. A possible agreement with China to sell dozens of Airbus aircraft from Europe is currently being discussed.

China is also interested in cultivating strategic and economic partners in Europe. This is especially true for France and Germany as China pursues its post Covid reopening.

Fu Cong, China's ambassador in the European Union ahead of Macron's trip, said that the closeness of China to Russia was overplayed. He said that the friendship between the countries is a 'no limits' one.

Mr. Xi is expected to meet with Mr. Macron for more than six hours during his three-day trip -- an exceptional treatment that shows a serious diplomatic intention -- and will include a visit to Guangzhou in the south, where Mr. Xi has close family ties.

Last month, Mr. Xi claimed that the United States was leading Western countries to a campaign of all-out containment', encirclement' and suppression' of China. He clearly sees France, as an important partner as the Biden Administration imposes export controls to cut off Chinese access critical technologies.


Macron could have leverage by offering a European economic outreach that the United States are not willing to provide to persuade China to play a more constructive role diplomatically in Ukraine. China's recent success in brokering a deal to restore diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries was a clear indicator of its new ambition.

The French official stated that the goal was not to cut off ties with China. The French official said that the objective was to strengthen these ties.

Strong growth is the only way to guarantee the Chinese Community Party's authority. Last year's growth rate was only 3 percent, the lowest in many years. The EU can do more than Russia to help the economy recover, despite all the talk about 'no boundaries'.

Ursula von der Leyen is the president of the European Commission, who is accompanying Macron to show off European strength. She said last week in a speech that "it is neither feasible -- nor in Europe’s interest -- for Europe to decouple itself from China." Our relationships are neither black nor white, and neither can our response. Decoupling is not the answer. We need to de-risk, instead.

She said, despite framing China’s rise more directly and in a more ominous manner than Mr. Macron: 'China is now moving from the era'reform' and 'openness' to a new one of security and control.

Ms. von der Leyen said that the European Union must diversify its resources and reduce its dependency on China.

She said that 'we rely on a single supplier, China, for 98 per cent of our rare earth, 93 per cent of our magnesium, and 97percent of our lithium'.


French official stated that Ms. von der Leyen’s more harsh public views about China’s hardening of Mr. Xi's regime did not reflect a different appreciation but rather Mr. Macron’s determination to move forward in order to 'find a way to build' once we knew this.

The French leader's approach to both Mr. Putin, and Mr. Xi has been to recognize on one hand, the threat that they pose to Western democracy and values, while on the other insisting that only dialogue will bring about positive change.

In recent months, the dialogue that was intense in the beginning of the war with Mr. Putin has ceased. It did not seem to bear fruit.

We are allies of the Americans. The French official stated that we are not equally positioned between China and the United States. We don't share the same views on China because our interests are different.

According to the French, the potential for China's harm is too great, whether it's by arming Russia, or invading Taiwan, for anything other than a'reengagement based on frank dialog'.

This is not Biden's language about China. If Mr. Macron and Europe as a whole welcome the American critical support for the Ukraine war, they don't want to pay the price by losing China.