The Washington PostThe Washington Post

China's new world order is taking shape

By Ishaan Tharoor

10 Apr 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

What role does China want play in the world? The Post's Ishaan Tharoor examines the political nuances of Macron's visit to Beijing and explores the implications of the country's growing influence.

It was a bumper week for diplomacy in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping accompanied his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, on a three-day visit to the Chinese capital and the southern metropolis of Guangzhou. Escaping, if briefly, from the fiery protests taking place in his own country, Macron was received by adoring, excited crowds of students at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University. In between grand receptions and formal tea ceremonies, the two leaders saw a slate of French companies and Chinese state-run firms clinch some major business deals.

Macron gave Xi the optics he sought: A clear reminder to the United States - who Xi obliquely referred to as a domineering "third party" - of the gap between its hawkish stance on China and the more perhaps equivocating posture of many in Europe. It was less clear what Xi gave Macron politically: The French president urged Xi to bring Russia "to reason" over its invasion of Ukraine, but that was met by boilerplate rhetoric and little indication of the needle of the conflict being moved in any significant direction.

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