Pushback on Xi’s Vision for China Spreads Beyond U.S.
In March 2019, Xi Jinping flew to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the then-president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
After toasting with flutes of Champagne, the Chinese president pressed the three leaders, according to an official present. A recent European Union policy paper had described China as a “systemic rival.” Did the Europeans really mean it?
Ms. Merkel demurred with a compliment for Mr. Xi, saying the language showed Europe recognized China’s growing strength and influence, the official said. Mr. Juncker cut the tension with a joke about the EU’s inability to agree on what China was. But Mr. Macron was blunt, the official recalled.
It’s true, the French president said. You are a rival.
A few weeks later, France sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait, provoking Beijing, which accused the frigate of illegally entering Chinese waters.
Wall Street Journal