Macron in China: Europe must work with China's Silk Road

January 10, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron chose to start his three-day official visit in Xian, very symbolically as he always does, because Xian is the city from which the Silk Roads left for the West. After visiting the famous buried armies of Emperor Qin (third century B.C.), he gave a very powerful hour and a quarter minute speech at the Daminggong Palace to those accompanying him, including the Vice-President of China and other dignitaries, and the full French delegation of 100.

In a very poetic but precise manner, President Macron defined his views of the contours, the rules and the content of a French-Chinese cooperation in the New Silk Road project, but also for a European-Chinese cooperation with the New Silk Road project, since he made of himself the interlocutor for Europe in this respect.

The key phrases which indicate a positive orientation and change are: Macron's rejection of the war paradigm and for a win-win world explicitly, his mea culpa for the West on Iraq and Libya; on Africa, his mea culpa on French imperialism; on the Chinese Silk Road, his praising of the Chinese for having contributed a "new epic narrative" for the "fatigued" Western world to envisage  a new dream.

De Gaulle, looking at those who had joined him in London following the occupation of France, the General had this phrase: "I was expecting the cathedrals [i.e. the Catholics], and I got the synagogues [i.e. the Jews]! We could also say today: We were expecting the European sovereignists to join the New Silk Road, and we got Europeanists of opportunity!" Clearly opposing a geopolitical view, Macron made himself the voice of a Europe seeking with China to find a way to get the world back to a win-win multilateralism, criticizing implicitly the "unilateralism" of the U.S. (Jerusalem) and Russia (Ukraine). Note, however, that for Macron, the EU and the euro are not a dogma. During the Presidential campaign he declared that if his European bid did not work, he would skip it.

The other element which is omnipresent in his intervention is the fight against climate change and for a world respecting the environment. This does not in any way go against investments in infrastructure, industries and technologies, however. Both the Chinese, who have gone into a full mobilization against air, soil and water pollution, and Macron are pro-nuclear. This is more to pay lip service to the Weltgeist, and not a Malthusian greenie ideology per se.

Clearly, if France and Europe go fully into the New Silk Road perspectives they will rapidly be brought to a contradiction: The need for financial reform, and the reestablishment of national banks in order to emit national credit, for investments in infrastructure, industries, new technologies.