Macron’s Beijing Blitz: Genuine Attempt to Escape US Vassalage or PR Move?

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron walk in the garden of the residence of the Governor of Guangdong, on April 7, 2023, where Chinese President XI Jinping’s father, XI Zhongxun lived.InternationalIndiaAfricaThe French president made a series of blunt statements relating to Paris’s relationship vis-à-vis Beijing and Washington this month, sparking a debate about whether his country is looking to leave America’s orbit in favor of a more independent foreign policy. But we shouldn’t hold our collective breath, says geopolitical analyst Jeff J. Brown.French President Emmanuel Macron is reportedly hoping to work with China on a “secret plan” to bring the crisis in Ukraine to a halt and get Moscow and Kiev to sit down at the negotiating table by the summer. According to media reports, the plan is being worked on by senior Macron foreign policy advisor Emmanuel Bonne and Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat.The details of Macron’s plan are murky, apart from a line about the need to provide Kiev with “long-term security guarantees,” including by China.Beijing has been clear about its own vision for ending the Ukrainian conflict, issuing a 12-point peace plan in February centered around the need for the conflicting parties to abandon the “Cold War mentality” and recognize that “the security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others,” including via the expansion of exclusive military alliances.

Macron’s role in this equation, and what alterations to the Chinese formula he may hope to bring, remains unclear.

However, the reported French push to secure China-backed peace talks seem to be in line with the French leader’s string of independence-minded statements following his April 5-8 visit to Beijing for talks with President Xi and other senior Chinese officials.Macron has taken heavy flak from politicians in Washington and Paris’s allies in Europe after urging the EU not to allow itself to be sucked into the confrontation between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, and asking what interest the EU would have in adapting the confrontation-minded “American rhythm” on the issue.After the backlash, Macron doubled down, saying that “being an ally” to Washington “does not mean being a vassal…does not mean that we don’t have the right to think for ourselves.” Paris, he said, “supports the One China policy and the search for a peaceful resolution” to Taiwan tensions, and should not be “followers” of Washington’s “agenda.”

Napoleonic Grandeur or PR Stunt?

The domestic political context and the increasingly visible shifting of political and economic power away from Washington toward Asia may help explain Macron’s unusual bluntness. On the one hand, some observers suggest, the French leader may be seeking to shore up a reputation of an independence-minded, Charles de Gaulle-style statesman to soothe raging protests in France over his government’s deeply unpopular pension reform agenda.On the other, Macron’s rogue remarks may hint at lingering resentment toward Washington and London over the surprise announcement by Australia, the UK and the US in 2021 on the creation of the AUKUS security pact, which bamboozled Paris out of a $66 billion contract to build submarines for Canberra and prompted barely contained fury from the French president.WorldVideos: Spontaneous Protest Against Pension Reform in Paris Turns Violent13 April, 15:23 GMT

Talk is Cheap

Whatever Macron’s motivations, and whether he’s sincere or not, he’s not at liberty to pursue policies independent from Brussels, NATO and other Western political, military and financial institutions, says Jeff J. Brown, a veteran geopolitical analyst, journalist, lecturer and author of The China Trilogy.“Macron got the royal treatment in Beijing when meeting with Xi Jinping. Their hours spent together privately, tête-à-tête, clearly rubbed off on him. Thus, his comments about Taiwan, European interests and US vassalage reflect that,” Brown, who is also the co-founder and curator of the Bioweapon Truth Commission, explained in an interview with Sputnik.

“However, to be honest, it does not really matter what Macron says,” the observer said, pointing out that under the terms of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, France and other EU members are made “subordinate to Brussels and its secretive Eurogroup, which meets monthly and decides internal and external policy for each EU country.”

“Nothing will change” as a result of Macron’s comments, Brown argues, because “the neoliberal Eurogroup works hand-in-hand with the City of London/Bank of England, Wall Street/US Federal Reserve and NATO. Europe will continue to be a weak Washington vassal. No new policy, just America’s dictates as usual.”For proof, Brown said, all one has to do is look at the delegation of French lawmakers which was “hurriedly sent to Taiwan” this week to assure Taipei and Washington that France’s policy remains immutable.“Macron had his moment to play anti-Anglo-Saxon, anti-NATO Charles de Gaulle for a news cycle. He will continue to get his marching orders from Brussels and he will obey them. We are witnessing an unprecedented shift in global power, but the initiative is not coming from the G7. It is being driven by the Global Majority, starting with BRICS, SCO, CELAC and other non-imperial groups,” Brown summed up.WorldChina Expects All Countries to Reject Any Form of Taiwan Secession After Macron’s Comment10 April, 12:12 GMT

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