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Original illustration by Tse Yuet Ching. 

08:46 am | 30. November 2020

Searching for a Bolder China Policy

French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken of "boldness," "risk-taking" and the upholding of Enlightenment values as essential to foreign policy. But far from boldness, the current strategy toward China in Paris seems one of avoiding offense at all cost. 

By Antoine Bondaz

In August 2019, President Emmanuel Macron defended to his ambassadors a "strategy of boldness, of risk-taking" in French foreign policy. His argument was essentially that as “the international order is being disrupted in an unprecedented way, with massive upheaval, probably for the first time in our history, in almost all areas and on a historic scale,” France should not choose to be just a spectator, but must act instead as a balancing power in the midst of disruptions that threaten European values – and as the world centered around the two main focal points of the United States and China. In regards to China, Macron said that earning the country’s respect meant, first and foremost, taking “a European approach” to the changing world, particularly as China had shown a “a real diplomatic genius for playing on our divisions and weakening us.”

Macron's bold language was an echo of what he had said on the night of his election as president in 2017: "Europe and the world are waiting for us to defend the spirit of the Enlightenment that is threatened in so many places. They are waiting for us to defend freedoms everywhere, to protect the oppressed."

Given his bold rhetoric last year and throughout his term, Macron was taken to task in late August this year as he failed to hold a public press conference with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to openly state French concerns, including about the situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. This was a noted contrast to Italian, Dutch and German officials who were much more direct in their criticisms. The French president reportedly did air his “strong concerns” in an internal meeting with Wang, but was this really boldness?

2020 has been a year full of challenges in China-France relations, stemming from tensions over the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and 5G, and questions over Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, not to mention issues related to trade, climate policy and so on. In the face of these challenges, how has Macron’s “strategy of boldness, of risk taking,” held up? To answer this question, we must go back over President Macron's ambitions regarding China, and take a closer look at France's China policy and its concrete, albeit sometimes limited, achievements.

Imperfect Communication

Foreign Minister Wang Yi's trip to Europe in August 2020 was motivated more by questions of form than substance. For this reason, it was essential that the French counterparts gave special attention to their public communication, ensuring that French positions were publicly conveyed. And yet the communication errors, particularly those committed by the Elysée Palace, the presidential office that drives French foreign policy, gave the impression that complacency on the French side was aiding China’s communication agenda, or even fueling its propaganda – all without leading to the slightest announcement on the bilateral level.

This sequence of events in fact highlighted the broader problem of hyper-centralization of decision-making on foreign policy matters at the Elysée, as well as human resource issues within the diplomatic office, including frequent staff departures and burn-outs – including of the adviser in charge of the Americas and Asia in August 2020 – in what one commentator recently characterized colorfully as “French diplomacy on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”

One key issue in the bilateral relationship, which came up between President Macron and Wang, has been the systemic aspect as well as the lack of reciprocity in senior-level meetings. On the French side, Emmanuel Macron has received Wang Yi on each of his four visits to Paris – in May 2018, January and October 2019, and August 2020. On the other side, France’s minister of foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has never secured a meeting with Xi Jinping, having met only with Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, which has general oversight of foreign affairs in China, during one of his three visits to Beijing.

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French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian has made three visits to China, but aside from a de facto meeting during Macron’s visit has never had a bilateral meeting with General Secretary Xi Jinping. Image available at Wikipedia Commons under CC license.

France has repeatedly urged reciprocity at all levels as a priority, and yet China has proved resistant and France unsuccessful. It should also be recalled that since 2018 President Macron has committed himself to visiting China every year, a diplomatic courtesy he has not extended to any other country. This has further exacerbated the asymmetry of the French negotiating position, leaving Paris in a position during each successive visit to negotiate Chinese concessions, even if these are small and mostly cosmetic. One could then wonder if France has been bold enough with China diplomatically.

As mentioned previously, another communication failing on the French side during the Wang Yi visit was the lack of mention of the sensitive issues of Hong Kong and Xinjiang publicly in front of the media. While no press conference was held in Paris, the Italian, Dutch and German leaders did raise their concerns in press conferences. Moreover, during Wang Yi's speech at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), journalists were not permitted to ask questions, a seeming nod to Chinese demands that in fact raises questions about the role of think tanks in free societies like that of France. Should they not exist to provide open and critical platforms for discussion, being integral to sound policy-making?

The absence of public statements on the French side in the wake of President Macron and Wang’s meeting was a communication mistake that left Beijing free to impose its elements of language which were then widely taken up in the international press.

 

The Quai d'Orsay press release, an account of the meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Wang Yi released on August 30, mentioned only at the very end that “[the] minister recalled France's serious concerns about the deterioration of the human rights situation in China, in particular in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.” But neither the president nor the minister spoke publicly in front of the media about their concerns, and this attracted criticism from many Europeans.

The absence of public statements on the French side in the wake of President Macron and Wang’s meeting was a communication mistake that left Beijing free to impose its elements of language which were then widely taken up in the international press. This problem was compounded as the Elysée had also failed, after previous meetings between Wang Yi and Macron’s diplomatic adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, to issue any communiqué.

In May, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a read-out of a phone call in which Bonne was quoted as saying he “appreciated the sensitivity of Hong Kong-related issues,” and affirmed that “France hoped related issues would be properly resolved under the “one country, two systems” framework.” The Chinese release effectively preempted communication from the Elysée Palace, which had failed to publicly express its concerns on the deterioration of the situation in Hong Kong publicly at a crucial time.

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A May 2020 release from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports a telephone exchange between Wang Yi and Macron’s foreign policy advisor, Emmanuel Bonne.

The read-out also mentioned that Bonne had noted “the tensions and misunderstandings in the international community caused by COVID-19,” giving the further impression that Bonne had supported the idea that China was a misunderstood and benevolent country. In fact, just one month earlier, Le Drian had summoned the Chinese ambassador to voice his extreme disapproval after the China Embassy had published a communique spreading disinformation and slander over France’s handling of COVID-19 and some French MPs. The Chinese communication strategy is yet obvious, benefit from asymmetry in communication to silence disputes and portray a positive image of China.

In a European context, such communiqués may not be regarded as necessary following meetings between European partners. However, it is essential with regard to diplomatic meetings with powers, such as China, that are engaged in what Josep Borrell, the current High Representative of the European Union, back in March called the "global battle of narratives."

High Ambitions, Low Results

The Franco-Chinese relationship is often presented as a being unique due to a number of "historical firsts" between the partners. In 1973,  French President Georges Pompidou became the first Western head of state to visit China since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. France was also the first major Western country to establish formal partnerships with China, including a "global partnership" in 1997, and a "global strategic partnership" in 2004. In 2001, France became the first to organize a strategic dialogue with China, followed in 2004 by the United Kingdom (2004), in 2009 by the United States, and in 2010 by Germany. Despite its historical firsts, however, China’s bilateral relationships in Europe have gradually normalized, and France today enjoys no clear advantage over its European counterparts in this respect.

From his first state visit to China in January 2018, Macron sought to underline his pragmatism and lay the foundations for a more reciprocal bilateral relationship. Visiting the northwest Chinese city of Xi'an, which once formed the eastern end of the network of trade routes later called the “Silk Road,” the French president stated in reference to China’s ambitious global development project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), that “silk roads . . . cannot be the roads of a new hegemony that would somehow put the countries they traverse in a state of vassalage." By that point, the BRI, launched more than four years earlier, was already the subject of some controversy in Europe, with concerns over transparency in public tenders for infrastructure projects, a flood of Chinese investment into the EU and other issues. During the 2018 visit, Macron’s economic minister added that France would oppose "investments of plunder.

More than a year later, in March 2019, Macron sounded a strong note on the fringes of a European Council meeting, stating that "the time of European naivety" was over in regards to relations with China. His words were a call for greater vigilance, for European states to wake up to the longer-term implications of geopolitical or strategic dependence on China. The traditional focus on trade was no longer enough, he said, and he cited China’s formation of the “16+1” group of nations in Central and Eastern Europe – now the “17+1” with the addition of Greece in 2019 – as a worrying example of its political ambitions on the continent.

The theme of dependence featured strongly in Macron’s criticisms again this year, as the global COVID-19 pandemic, both a health crisis and an economic crisis, exposed “flaws and weaknesses” for Europe, including what the president called "our dependence on other continents to provide us with certain products." The president referred to a Franco-German proposal for a 500 billion Euro Recovery Fund to help turn the continent’s economy around as an “historic turning point,” paving the way for a more assertive Europe – toward both the US and China. "This could be an unprecedented step in our European adventure and the consolidation of an independent Europe that gives itself the means to assert its identity vis-à-vis China, the United States and the global disorder that we now see."

Economic exchanges and the fight against climate change are two priority areas in the bilateral relationship Macron seized on early on in his presidency, both tied directly to his national priorities. On the economic side, there have been some noteworthy advances – beyond the traditional signing of mega contracts for Airbus. For example, Paris has obtained the total lifting of the embargo on French beef, first instituted by China in 2001. It has pushed at the  European level for a successful agreement ensuring the protection of 100 European food products, 26 of them French, and as many Chinese products. Excluding aeronautical equipment, we should also note an increase in the export of French to China in 2019, up 7.4 percent year-on-year, and favorable numbers for the export of agricultural and agri-food products, up 17.8 percent.

Despite these rare bright spots on trade, however, structural and pre-existing problems in the bilateral relationship persist, even as the Elysée has made it its mandate to promote "the principles of market access, fair competition, reciprocity and reduction of trade tensions."

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So far, the commitments made by China have been non-binding and abstract. The 2019 Action Plan for Franco-Chinese Relations, for example, mentions only that the two countries "wish to rebalance their bilateral economic exchanges upwards," meaning the idea is to balance trade between the two countries by having France export more to China, without decreasing French imports of Chinese goods. Nevertheless, France's trade deficit with China continues to worsen. China is France's largest bilateral trade deficit, with a record 31.6 billion euros reached in 2019, accounting for more than half of France's total trade deficit. According to data from Rhodium, France attracted just 14.4 billion euros of Chinese investment between 2000 and 2019, compared with 50.3 billion for the United Kingdom and 12.0 billion for Finland – the latter being an economy ten times smaller than that of France.

On the issue of the climate, France and China have signed the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change, an important document at a time when Marseille (2020 IUCN World Conservation Congress) and Kunming (2020 UN Biodiversity Conference - CBD COP 15) were due to host two major international conferences on biodiversity in 2020, two events now postponed. However, progress on climate change between the two sides should be put into perspective, given the fact that Beijing's commitments – including its recent announcement of plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2060  – come at a time when Chinese companies in the environmental field are increasingly in direct competition with French companies, and these commitments were in any case not made in the framework of the bilateral relationship.

A United Front in Europe?

President Macron's pragmatism and his emphasis on Europe, and particularly reaching a common European position on China were welcome developments. In March 2019, wary of a possible Chinese strategy to divide Europeans through such mechanisms as the ‘16+1,” he sought to make a show of European unity by inviting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker, to a quadrilateral meeting at the Elysée corresponding to the state visit by Xi Jinping. Eight months later, during his visit to China in November 2019, he made a point of surrounding himself with people from the European Commission, including representative Phil Hogan, and German Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek.

Macron has also tried to project European strength in the area of security. In June 2018, as France made its annual “Joan of Arc” navy deployment in Asia, a five-month action that included one transit of the South China Sea, the exercise was accompanied on board by five EU officials.

But beyond shows of solidarity, real unity in Europe over a range of China-related policy issues has been difficult to achieve. There are some areas of notable progress, such as the EU Investment Screening Mechanism, which strengthens monitoring of foreign investment, including from China. But EU member states are still far from reaching a solid common strategy to replace the 2016 Strategy on China and meet the new challenges laid out in the EU-China Strategic Outlook of March 2019, which presented China as a “cooperation partner,’ “negotiating partner,” an “economic competitor,” and most importantly, a “systemic rival.”

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An April 2019 headline at Le Point International reads: “Shanghai, Macron calls for ‘playing European’ against China.”

If France "played European" in 2019, emphasizing the need to send a unified message on China, it must be recognized that this was not the case for other countries, Germany in particular. Chancellor Merkel, for example, did not invite a single French representative during her visit to China in September 2019, thus running counter to President Macron's message of unity and giving Chinese authorities cause to doubt the existence of a true European united front. The question may also arise, however, of France's lack of coordination with its European partners in the announcement of the Macron's initiatives, of which many EU countries seemed unaware.

The French presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2022 will be crucial if France wishes to make European unity in China policy one of its priorities, at a time when Europeans continue to underestimate their own strengths. It should not be forgotten that the European Union remains China’s leading market, as well as the primary source of investment for the Chinese economy. This is a strong point to make, particularly at a time when tensions, both commercial and technological, between the United States and China are constantly deepening – making the European Union an indispensable partner.

Beyond shows of solidarity, real unity in Europe over a range of China-related policy issues has been difficult to achieve despite President Macron’s initiatives.

 

Boldness Lost

In a recent article, Françoise Nicolas of the French Institute of International Relations criticized France's China policy for its "lack of clarity-and even consistency." But while lack of clarity can sometimes be a deliberate aspect of policy, a strategic ambiguity leaving room for maneuvering, there is something else conspicuously absent from France’s China policy today – the "strategy of boldness, of risk-taking" that Macron spoke of so passionately in August 2019. This is all the more paradoxical because the French President and his advisers like to emphasize before negotiating the importance of establishing a balance of power, as Macron did recently in the case of Turkey.

This lack of boldness can be seen in particular on the issues I outline below, including Taiwan, Huawei, and Xinjiang.

Invisibilizing Taiwan

Taiwan is a cooperation partner of France in the economic, cultural, scientific and educational fields. Moreover, guaranteeing maintenance of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait is in the direct interest of France and Europe. And yet Paris has seemed overly cautious in its relations with Taipei, perhaps out of fear of offending Beijing. This comes at a time when Chinese threats and interference in Taiwan are multiplying. By simply mentioning Taiwan as a de facto partner and reinforcing cooperation at all levels, including between two societies with shared values, France might help support maintenance of the status quo. This is all the more important given the recent statement by Germany’s defense minister that “anything outside a peaceful settlement of issues across the Taiwan Strait would be seen as a major failure of statecraft.”

Some may considered that France has recently asserted itself in its relationship with Taiwan, yet it is not credible. A contract was indeed awarded in April for the modernization of its DAGAIE decoy launcher system, which equipped – against furious criticism from Beijing – the six Taiwanese frigates sold by France in the early 1990s. This contract, however, is in line with previous contracts, involving systems that are purely defensive. It in no way reverses the French decision in 1994 to bar the sale of offensive weapons systems, including Mirage jets, to Taiwan.

Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has shown that Germany and Italy have also sold de facto military equipment to Taiwan since 2010, though these sales are all still far from the level of sales by the United States. As for the passage of the frigate Vendémiaire through the Taiwan Strait in April 2019 (bearing its five EU representatives), this was in no way a new action by the French Navy, which transits the passage every year to uphold adherence to freedom of navigation under the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). What in fact was new about the Vendémiaire deployment last year was the intensity of criticism launched by Beijing over what it chose to regard as an “illegal” crossing.

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The French frigate Vendémiaire in the South China Sea in 2016. Image by Jonathan Jiang, US Navy, available at Wikimedia Commons under CC license.

Far from boldness, the current strategy adopted by Paris is clearly one of not making waves and avoiding any action that might offend China. And this strategy has been pursued to the point of counterproductivity. Thus, in January 2020, the Quai d'Orsay, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, posted a welcome announcement as elections were held in Taiwan. The brief announcement tip-toed around the bolder implications of democracy in Taiwan by saying that the elections “demonstrated the commitment of the Taiwanese people to local democracy, the rule of law and human rights.” The use of the word “local,” intended as a reminder that Taiwan was not a country, was a clumsy and fainthearted choice.

Why should France not be bolder in its promotion of democratic values in Asia? One might go even further and criticize what seems to be a systematic strategy of invisibilizing Taiwan on the part of the French government in official documents. For example, there is no web page dedicated to Taiwan on the Quai d'Orsay site. Similarly, neither the “Asia-Oceania Strategy 2030” white paper nor the French Strategy in the Indo-Pacific makes any mention of Taiwan – not even as an economic partner. This is a significant paradox for strategy that wants to make the Indo-Pacific an "inclusive" space.

Hedging on Huawei and Security

On the issue of Huawei and 5G, too, France has managed to soften the edges of and avoid bolder statements about possible threats to security. France has in one sense seemed to be a model in its handling of the Huawei case, having reconciled domestic security imperatives, presented very explicitly to the Chinese, with its hope of giving China no cause to impose punitive sanctions. It should also be noted that the main debate in France, unlike other European countries, has not been about the security risks associated with equipment manufacturers, or even about questions of sovereignty, but rather about environmental issues. The Green Party, for example, has recently called for a “moratorium” on 5G, which it accuses of being too energy-intensive.

Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom and a number of Eastern European countries, France has not opted for an outright ban on Huawei. In July 2020, the director of the National Information Systems Security Agency (ANSII), Guillaume Poupard, confirmed a hardening of French policy towards Huawei without a "total ban." The director summed France’s position up by saying that, “For the operators who do not use Huawei, we are urging them not to go there. For those who already use it, we are issuing authorizations for a period of between three and eight years."

Despite the indirect language – “What we are doing on 5G in France is a compromise,” said Poupard – the objective was clear: to prevent the installation of new equipment by Huawei while organizing the dismantling of equipment already installed, including in the 4G network, with priority in cities hosting strategic sites, such as Brest (a base for French ballistic missile submarines) and Rennes (a key operational center for cybersecurity).

The Huawei case reveals the importance of security issues and the growing concern of French security agencies towards China. But these concerns have remained implicit, and France has failed, through an abundance of caution, to send a bolder message to the French public and to China on security in unison with European member states and international allies. The security challenges posed by China were implicit again in Macron’s May 2019 speech in Australia, in which the president presented the French strategy in the Indo-Pacific, of which security is a key dimension (in contrast to the recently presented German strategy). It should be understood here that by making the Indo-Pacific strategy "a complementary strategy to the strategy towards China," Macron is de facto pitting the Indo-Pacific against China, and that India, Australia and Japan are considered as leading partners for France. “We’re not naïve,” he told his Australian hosts. “[If] we want to be seen and respected by China as an equal partner, we must organize ourselves.”

And yet, despite the growing concerns of French officials about the security threats to France's interests posed by China, the Elysée Palace has paradoxically avoided raising public awareness about these concerns. For example, the Macron’s speech in Australia, despite being presented as embodying his announcement of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, has yet to be formally published in written form.

Pressed Into Boldness on Xinjiang

Finally, on the question of the human rights situation in Xinjiang, Macron’s government has initially been reluctant to speak out in front of the media. It is indicative of the strong mobilization of French civil society on human rights issues that the government has been forced in recent months to be stronger on the Xinjiang, making it part of France’s declaratory diplomacy at the highest levels. This notably led President Macron to make his first public pronouncement on the subject in September 2020, stating in a letter to MPs that “every opportunity is used in our bilateral contacts with the Chinese authorities to call on them to put an end to detentions in camps in Xinjiang." In a speech to the UN General Assembly on September 22, Macron urged the upholding fundamental rights in Xinjiang, and called for an international mission by the UN to the region. “Fundamental rights are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference,” he said, a clear reference to China’s claim that such issues are purely a matter of sovereignty, and that criticism by other countries amounts to interference.

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Fiona Lazaar, a French politician of La République En Marche! (LREM), has been an outspoken critic of Chinese policies in Xinjiang. Image by Jean-Luc Hauser available at Wikipedia Commons under CC license.

It would indeed be unfair to reproach the French government for not caring about human rights violations in Xinjiang. Together with its European partners, France has for several years called attention to the issue, and its position has gradually hardened. In April 2018, France registered only “concern”; in November 2019, the Quai d'Orsay responded to further press revelations on Xinjiang camps by calling for "an end to arbitrary mass detentions” and a visit  to Xinjiang by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Since 2018, French parliamentarians have also pushed for greater attention to the issue – such as Danièle Obono in November 2018, M'jid El Guerrab in June 2019 (a response to his concerns even published on the website of the French Embassy in China), and Fiona Lazaar in January 2020.

Increasing attention by the government to the Xinjiang issue, culminating in Macron’s stronger statements in September this year, has been the result of strong media coverage coupled withthe mobilization of civil society, which gathered pace over the summer in France. On July 21, the daily newspaper Libération ran a front-page story highlighting the risk of genocide in Xinjiang following revelations about birth control in the autonomous region. In a public session, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Le Drian remarked in reply to a question posed by Hubert Julien-Laferrière, a representative of the National Assembly on the Foreign Affairs Committee, stating that “all these practices are unacceptable because they go against the universal principles enshrined in the major world human rights conventions." National Assembly member Aurélien Tache sent a letter to President Macron signed by dozens of parliamentarians accusing China of crimes against humanity.

Behind these responses, a mobilization of civil society was taking shape. At the initiative of MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, a petition circulated on Instagram and Twitter under the hashtag #FreeUyghurs, delivered to President Macron on October 1, drew signatures from nearly 250,000 people, including public figures like comedian Omar Sy and actress Leïla Bekhti, as well as well-known sports personalities. This growing wave of public outcry over Xinjiang demanded a swift reaction from President Macron. Without a bold statement from the president, the risk was two-fold. On the one hand, the outcry might escalate in ways that attracted Chinese reprisals even as there was no prospect for concrete improvements to the situation in Xinjiang. On the other hand, the failure to speak out might incur the wrath of French public opinion.

Xinjiang has this year become a rare case “of boldness, of risk-taking” in French foreign policy. Importantly, this boldness has required a concerted and sustained effort by French politicians and French society to become more deeply engaged with China-related issues – whatever the diplomatic risks. And this, in fact, helps to point in the direction needed in the future to ensure that France’s approach to China is well-informed, clear-eyed and strong.

Debating the Franco-Chinese Relationship

China is in fact the subject of growing interest in France, as the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang while the image of China in France further deteriorated since the beginning of the year with 70% of negative opinions, partly due to the harsh rhetoric from the Chinese Embassy in Paris, and especially Ambassador Lu Shaye. This has prompted much of the French population to consider the necessary evolution of the bilateral relationship. At present, however, real political debates on China, as can be found in Germany and the United Kingdom, are not happening in France.

The different political parties in France have not taken positions on China issues, with the exception of Xinjiang – the rancor over this particular issue risking the politicizing domestically in France of an issue that should remain solidly trans-partisan, in the interest of ensuring China respects its international and legal commitments, including the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It is therefore essential for France to engage in a public and democratic debate on our relations with China. We must avoid the current situation, in which the Chinese Embassy in France is the sole organizer of conferences on this important subject, and certain outspoken political figures – notably former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, known for his friendliness toward China and as a result a constant feature of Chinese state media reports on France – are the sole voices to comment on bilateral relations.

What we need in France is of course not a public debate that would seek to weaken our relations with China, or to push us in the direction of an openly confrontational stance, but rather to create a neutral space allowing for the exchange of contradictory opinions that might lead to greater literacy on China issues, and help inform the decision-making process on China policy. In 2019, Xi Jinping told Europeans that “we  must not  be worried about the future,” and that “we must not harbor worries in the backs of our minds.” However, it is precisely by avoiding blind trust in China's promises and by maintaining constructive concern that France and Europe will best defend their interests.

30. November 2020
Author
Antoine Bondaz

Dr. Antoine Bondaz is Research Fellow and Head of two research programs at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) as well as an Associate Professor at Sciences Po, Paris. He has testified before the French National Assembly and Senate, the European Parliament, NATO and at the UN.