Home News Macron injects personal touch into diplomacy with China

Macron injects personal touch into diplomacy with China

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French President Emmanuel Macron, who believes personal style is the key to diplomacy, lured Chinese President Xi Jinping to a 7,000-foot mountain pass in the Pyrenees on Tuesday in hopes of showcasing the legacy of his childhood Unobstructed views. But instead there was thick fog and wild snowflakes.

The road up the mountain was long, slippery, and raining heavily, but that didn’t stop hordes of Chinese admirers holding red flags and pennants from gathering in nearly every village along the way, miraculously transported to the remoteness of southwestern France. region, their enthusiasm seems to be unanimous.

Undeterred, Macron arrived two hours late to greet Xi under an umbrella at one of his favorite restaurants, “L’Auberge du Berger,” or “The Shepherd’s Station,” where guests dressed in colorful local costumes The dancers twirled and danced. The sounds of flutes, accordions and tambourines.

Xi Jinping was expressionless, but his wife, Peng Liyuan, was smiling and applauding.

Macron, 46, addressed Xi, 70, with the familiar “tu” rather than the formal “vous” more customary between heads of state, and presented the Chinese leader with a yellow shirt emblazoned with last year’s president’s signature. Jersey. Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, Danish cyclist.

“I know how much you love sport,” Mr Macron said. Xi Jinping is famous for his interest in football.

The Tourmalet pass, where the leaders meet, has mythical status in the Tour de France. Its steep, winding ascent is a serious test. It’s also a favorite place for Mr Macron, who travels here frequently from his home in northern France to stay in the nearby house of his maternal grandmother, Germaine Nogues. Germaine Noggs was a member of his family and he spoke of her most warmly.

Chef Eric Abédie, a friend of Mr Macron, provided a lunch of ham cured for 24 months from local black pig, lamb shoulder and blueberry tart. Cheese and fine wine abound. Xi Jinping was particularly impressed by the ham served as an aperitif, and he said he would promote it domestically. The atmosphere was festive, intimate and relaxed, just as Mr Macron had hoped.

What exactly it accomplishes is another matter. Over two days of talks, Xi was all smiles but offered little, particularly on European demands that he help end the war in Ukraine. With support from a range of leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir V. Putin and former U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Macron demonstrated His belief in his own seductive power only to be rejected or ignored.

French officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with diplomatic practice, said Macron has developed a unique and close relationship with Xi since their first meeting as president six years ago, giving him access to intimate thoughts within France. A Chinese leader that no other Western country has.

They pointed out that the China-France joint statement on the Middle East issued on Monday condemned all forms of terrorism, including Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, as evidence of the importance of this relationship at a time of severe global instability.

Others see it differently. “You can seduce voters,” said Bertrand Bady, an international relations expert at Sciences Po in Paris, noting that Macron has done so more than once. Even if “building a new partnership with China” is a worthy goal, “bringing it into complex international relationships becomes more difficult.”

The lunch itself was private, a gathering of four for the two leaders and their spouses. It was originally planned to be built on the terrace, but for obvious reasons this did not take off. The idea is to allow both parties to speak freely and honestly.

Little filtered through, but officials said Mr. Macron raised human rights issues in China on both Monday and Tuesday, although they were not mentioned in any communiqués.

Valérie Heyer, who will lead Macron’s Ennahda party in next month’s European Parliament elections, described China’s treatment of Uyghurs in the northwestern Xinjiang region in the harshest terms before the issue became It’s particularly subtle.

In an interview with Southern Radio this week, she said her personal view was that oppression in China “probably” amounted to genocide. French officials did not comment but said Mr Macron did not use the word.

They did point out, however, that the wine on offer was Jean-Luc Colombo’s 2008 vintage, the year of the Beijing Olympics, and that its “pao rouge,” or red dress, was reminiscent of a famous Chinese wine produced in the Fujian province. The name of the tea. It was once ruled by Xi Jinping.

Diplomacy is a delicate matter, at least from the French approach.

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