Wang Yi meets Macron ahead of security conference
Europe may look to China as US keeps ‘sacrificing allies amid Ukraine crisis’
Published: Feb 16, 2023 09:53 PM
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi makes a speech at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 15, 2020.(Xinhua/Lu Yang)

Wang Yi makes a speech at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 15, 2020.(Xinhua/Lu Yang)

Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday on strengthening bilateral cooperation, upholding multilateralism, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in his first stop of his Europe trip. He will also attend the Munich Security Conference, which kicks off on Friday, where Wang will convey China's vision on security.

Chinese experts believe that the visit will give Europe a better understanding of China's policies and stances after the 20th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress, and is of great significance to promoting China-EU strategic cooperation and multipolarization, at a time when China-US relations are strained due to the "balloon incident."

Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, told Macron on Wednesday that China is willing to further tighten high-level exchanges with France, open up new prospects for bilateral relations, inject new impetus into the development of China-EU relations, and make new contributions in promoting international cooperation and tackling global challenges.

Wang, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said that as China's economy has recovered rapidly and society has returned to normal, China stands ready to fully resume exchanges with France in various fields.

Noting that France attaches great importance to its relationship with China, Macron stressed that strengthening strategic dialogues between the two countries is of great significance.

In the face of the increasingly complicated international situation, France and China should work together to maintain stability and balance, uphold multilateralism, oppose bloc confrontations, and prevent the world from being broken apart, Macron said.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday that Wang Yi's trip aims to promote coordination and cooperation between China and Europe in various fields, and better explain China's diplomacy after the 20th CPC National Congress, so as to better solve regional and global issues.

"China and Europe have no fundamental differences and are natural partners. On climate issues, on global public health security, on nuclear proliferation, on refugees, and on regional security, there is a wide range of common interests," Li said. 

After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict, Europe followed the US in imposing sanctions on Russia, and has suffered from strikes, protests, and industrial and capital outflows, which has undermined its competitiveness.

Given that Wang Yi's European tour ends in Russia, some analysts said it reflected China's desire to strike a balance between its diplomacy with Europe and Russia. 

Analysts said China may be looking at opportunities to bring Europe and Russia closer together in some way.

Regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Wang Yi told Macron that China had adopted an objective and impartial attitude and was always committed to promoting peace talks.

The stance is also expected to be emphasized at the annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) to be held from Friday to Sunday, in which the Ukraine crisis is expected to be discussed amid the US and NATO's hyping of Russia's "spring offensive" as the one-year mark of the conflict's beginning draws near.

Analysts believed that there was a risk of a prolonged military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which would further harm European countries. 

"China does not belong to any party in the conflict… China and Russia are strategic partners. China is a good partner of Ukraine, China is also a close partner of Europe, so China is in a very flexible position, and in that sense, and not in the sense of taking sides, China can be in a position of being able to promote peace talks," Li said. 

Given the Western criticism of China's "failure to use its influence with Russia" to end the military conflict, Chinese experts regarded it as a biased idea that will only fan the flames of the situation rather than cool it down, Li said. 

China has its own position when it comes to resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and will coordinate with all parties to promote political dialogue, Li added. 

Peace makes Europe more prosperous, which was an important lesson for European integration after WW2, and only by abandoning the mentality of bloc confrontation can a world of lasting peace be established, analysts said.

China-EU relations are important to globalization, world peace and development, analysts said, remarking that Wang Yi's visit is an important step in promoting China-EU strategic cooperation and building a multi-polar world.