Macron travels to China to push against backing Russia

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French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech to inaugurate the Festival Croisements at the Red Brick Museum, in Beijing, China, Wednesday, April 5, 2023. French President Emmanuel Macron will have to muster all his diplomatic adeptness and political acumen on a three-day state visit to China where the war in Ukraine will be front and center. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) Thibault Camus/AP

Macron travels to China to push against backing Russia

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French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in China on Wednesday for a three-day visit that will emphasize Russia‘s war in Ukraine.

Macron, who arrived a day before he meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, is expected to warn Beijing not to send weapons to Russia, which the United States has said is under consideration. He will instead ask that they use its influence to support peace efforts in the war.

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China has become one of Russia’s most powerful allies. The two countries strengthened their ties since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, as Beijing has helped Moscow get around Western sanctions imposed due to the war. Beijing has claimed to be a neutral observer in the war, though China has refused to criticize Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

“China, because of its close relationship with Russia, which has been reaffirmed in recent days, can play a major role,” Macron said on Wednesday in a speech to the French community in Beijing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is joining Macron in China, indicating that the EU’s trade ties with China would be on the line with their decisions regarding Russia.

“China sees Putin’s weakness as a way to increase its leverage over Russia. And it is clear that the power balance in that relationship, which for most of the last century favored Russia, has now reversed,” von der Leyen said last week. “The Chinese Communist Party’s clear goal is a systemic change of the international order with China at its center. We have seen it with China’s positions in multilateral bodies, which show its determination to promote an alternative vision of the world order.”

Macron and President Joe Biden spoke on Tuesday, according to both president’s offices.

“The two leaders have mentioned their joint willingness to engage China to accelerate the end of the war in Ukraine and take part in building sustainable peace in the region,” Macron’s office said in a statement. The White House said in a readout that they discussed Macron’s trip to China and “reiterated their steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.”

The readout from Macron’s office demonstrates the difficult task ahead of him for the visit — convincing Beijing not to provide Russia with weapons but to work with the West to push a peace plan after the West rejected China’s 12-point peace plan that they announced months ago.

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Western countries dismissed Beijing’s peace plan partly because it would have solidified Russia’s gains within Ukrainian territory and because they believed Russian forces would simply use the ceasefire the plan called for to resupply and regroup before ultimately launching future offensives. Putin has said he supports aspects of the proposed plan.

Xi traveled to Moscow last month for a meeting with Putin, and the two leaders reaffirmed their country’s partnership. However, there was no announcement about Beijing agreeing to provide Russia with weapons.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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