Macron's visit shows US' intent to rope France into its political agenda, unlikely to achieve substantive breakthroughs
Published: Nov 26, 2022 08:00 PM
French President Emmanuel Macron Photo:AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron Photo:AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron will be hosted by US President Joe Biden next week in a rare state visit aimed at highlighting Franco-American friendship rather than the bitter economic competition between the two sides of the Atlantic, Reuters reported. US magazine Barron's noted that Macron will be the first French president to have been offered two state visits to meet a US president, the highest level of diplomatic protocol.

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, believed that the Macron visit fully conveys the US' evident intent to rope France into Biden's political agenda. Washington is aware that France has a big say on European affairs, and is hoping to exert influence over Macron to repair and improve US' relations with Europe.

Against the backdrop of the current energy crisis, the US is taking advantage of Europe, which has sparked Macron's displeasure. "In a spirit of great friendship, we will say to our American and Norwegian friends: 'You're super, you supply us with energy and gas, but one thing that can't go on for too long is us paying four times more than the price you sell to your industry, '" Macron was quoted as saying in October, "That is not exactly the meaning of friendship."

The US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has also hit hard related sectors or firms across France and the rest of Europe. Macron had slammed the act on several occasions. In early November, Macron said the act does not comply with WTO laws and labeled it as not "friendly" to Europe.

Although the Democrats did not see crushing loss as expected in the US midterm elections, losing the control of the House of Representatives means that they will be restrained by their Republican counterparts in providing aid to Ukraine. With the Ukraine crisis still ongoing, Washington hopes to see Europe continue to play or even expand its role in supporting the Ukrainians.

In addition, the US continues to see China as its primary adversary. But in the face of its relative decline, Washington cannot deal with China without the support of its allies, especially Europe.

A Reuters report on Macron's visit to US said that the elephant in the Oval Room will be the IRA. But Cui anticipated that there will be no substantive breakthroughs in Macron's negotiations with Biden in this regard. At most, the US will make limited concessions on European firms or other issues that Europeans concern. The US will not fully modify or abandon this bill in accordance with the will of France or Europe, as its logic is always to defend or pursue the interests of the US.

Some Western media have claimed that the US and France are anticipated to put on a show of unity on "common threats" from Russia and China. It is not surprising if Macron talks about the so-called China threat with Biden even in the context that Macron said he intends to visit China early next year. This is because France regards the so-called China threat as a card or a bargaining chip to negotiate with Washington, piling more pressure on the latter for the sake of more interests for France or Europe.

When talking about Macron's US visit, some media outlets are also pondering that if France has buried the hatchet over the AUKUS deal, the trilateral security pact - among the US, the UK and Australia - that had torpedoed a big French submarine contract and pushed French-US relations to the breaking point.

Despite contradictions between the two countries, France and the US are from the same camp, in which the US take the lead and Europe, including France, has to accept the US' leadership no matter how the US has taken advantage of it. At the moment, Europe has neither the capability nor the will to challenge the US' hegemony, Wang Shuo, a professor at the School of International Relations of Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times.

It's time for Europe to step up to achieve strategic autonomy; otherwise, it cannot escape the fate of its interests being sacrificed to serve those of Washington.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn