When France’s president wants to carry European concerns to the world stage to find solutions for climate change, trade tensions or Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he no longer calls Washington. He flies to Beijing.
President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China this week was a glaring new sign of the United States’ declining global influence under President Donald Trump.
One moment spoke volumes: Chinese President Xi Jinping sampling French wines, which Trump’s administration recently slapped with heavy new tariffs.
Macron portrayed himself as an envoy for the whole European Union, conveying the message that the bloc has largely given up on Trump, who doesn’t hide his disdain for multilateralism.
Just as the Trump administration formally launched the process of pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement , France and China issued a “Beijing call” on Wednesday for increased global cooperation in fighting climate change and better protecting biodiversity. Both countries have deplored the U.S. withdrawal.
“One country’s isolated choice can’t change the course of the world. It only leads to marginalization,” Macron said.
While China’s president tasted French wines and high-quality beef at an import fair in Shanghai, Macron was pushing for a broader opening of the Chinese market to European products.
“I think he discovered Languedoc wine. He wasn’t familiar with it, he liked it. He tasted a Burgundy and a classic Bordeaux wine,” Macron told reporters.
Xi said the two leaders were sending “a strong signal to the world about steadfastly upholding multilateralism and free trade, as well as working together to build open economies.”
During his first state visit to China in January 2018, Macron vowed to return every year in an effort to establish “mutual trust.”
Since then, Xi has travelled to France, when China signed an agreement in March to buy 300 aircraft from European plane maker Airbus.
This time, Macron travelled east, bringing with him an ambitious agenda that includes establishing a joint stance on reforming the World Trade Organization, fighting climate change and saving the nuclear accord with Iran.
After Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 U.N. nuclear pact, France and China reiterated their support for the hard-fought deal both countries had helped negotiate.