“History is replete with big power competition,” she said. “The slowly assembling parts of a tragedy do not mean that the tragedy is inevitable, but pretending to ignore what looms does not help.”
Parly, a veteran of the French government since Jacques Chirac’s administration in the early 2000s and a key driver of the Indo-Pacific strategy, was replaced last year by 35-year-old Sébastien Lecornu. Lecornu has pledged to protect navigation in the Pacific but one of 51 points in the joint declaration signed by Macron and Xi on Sunday also said the two “deepen exchanges between People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theatre and the French units in Asia-Pacific”.
In the Politico interview published on Sunday, Macron repeatedly raised France’s and Europe’s autonomy, a word used only twice in the Indo-Pacific strategy to refer to ASEAN and food security, as France hedges its bets to deal with its more complicated geopolitical reality.
The phrase has been welcomed by China’s leaders as it allows them to emphasise the division between Europe and the United States.
“This will be debated by many,” said the co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations Carl Bildt. “It’s undoubtedly correct that [Europe] should form its own policy on China, but it’s equally correct that in many aspects – if not all – it will align closely with the approach of the [United States].”
By Friday, it was clear that Beijing had done everything it could to shift that equation.
Inside the Pine Garden beneath Baiyun Mountain in Guangzhou, Xi and Macron listened to a thousand-year-old song played on a thousand-year-old instrument, the Guqin.
“Only bosom friends can understand this music,” Xi told Macron.
Macron, who went to China with Ukraine and European unity at the top of his agenda, came home with more than just an understanding of Chinese folk songs.
“The Chinese are also concerned about their unity and Taiwan, from their point of view, is a component of this,” he told Les Echos. “It is important to understand how they reason.”
Get a note directly from our foreign correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.