It appears that French President Emmanuel Macron’s 3-day visit to China was a diplomatic gesture of no significance.
Aside from the horse presented by Macron to China in return for the panda, the Chinese order of 184 short-haul Airbus A320s and the removal of ban on French beef (since 2001 due to Europe’s ‘mad cow’ disease in the late 1990s), nothing new showed up.
Even though Macron mentioned the hope of working with China in Africa, no practical step has been laid down. France 24 reported that “cooperation between the pair on the continent has never taken concrete shape.
The ‘France-China partnerships in third-party markets’ that were launched officially in July 2015 and which were primarily aimed at Asia and Africa … no project came to fruition …… The large multinational (French) companies already established there didn’t need it and the small and medium-sized businesses that might have been tempted were skittish because they didn’t know how to protect their interests in the face of the Chinese. The trust was not there.”
The French firms are not good at doing business in China. The most well known example is Carrefour, France’s retailing giant equivalent to Wal-mart of the US and Tesco of the UK, which has been struggling hard in China for profit through its “238 stores in more than 70 Chinese cities”.
Nevertheless, Macron has found a common ground for France and China — Climate Change — which could be very politically productive, at least for himself. He “charmed the Chinese public by delivering his climate slogan ‘make our planet great again’ in Mandarin”, thus further solidifying his status as a charismatic leader of the campaign to protect the Earth after the Paris Agreement 2016. He needs China to fulfill his destiny in history and reciprocally China needs an open-minded France to welcome the coming of the Belt and Road Initiative to enrich the eastern European countries (the 16+1 project).
Given a souring Sino-British relationship, a stable friendship between France and China is vital to the long term interests of the Earth, a new EU which will have no Britain, and more importantly, the world peace.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.