Of course, on China as on all priority dossiers, France and Germany discuss and coordinate. But it is erroneous to say that a Franco-German tandem shapes a common European China Policy; rather, it strengthens Europe’s China policy and contributes to its implementation.
By inviting Merkel and Juncker to join him during Xi’s visit in March 2019, Macron sent the signal that France’s bilateral relations with China are aligned with EU’s China policy. It expressed France and Germany’s endorsement of the EU-China Strategic Outlook communicated in Strasbourg 10 days before - and the related paradigm shift. Last December, Merkel’s invitation to Michel, Von der Leyen and Macron to jointly address the Chinese President on the CAI, brought the discussion to a political level, facilitating a quick, political decision after 7 years of negotiations on the text. This approach extends to other international initiatives: in the April joint virtual meeting, Macron and Merkel engaged with Xi on UN commitments on climate change, biodiversity and the COVID crisis.
Other European Heads of State should feel free to do the same. Xi visits Europe every year, but went to Brussels in person only once, in 2014, mostly delegating, until recently, relations with the EU to Li Keqiang. Inviting representatives of the European institutions, and fellow State leaders, to the bilateral meetings they have with President Xi, and bringing to the table European and UN objectives, would help counter a country-by-country approach which, in the long run, goes against our interests.