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.