The French President's Controversial Play: Macron Looks to China to Broker Ukraine Negotiations

The French President's Controversial Play: Macron Looks to China to Broker Ukraine Negotiations
Photo by Max Kukurudziak / Unsplash

Lede: French President Emmanuel Macron has turned to China in an effort to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table. Macron's overtures to China have raised questions among Western allies, who are concerned about his apparent willingness to align with Xi Jinping, due to concerns over China’s foreign policies’ assertiveness and human rights violations.

What we know:

  • Macron has been seeking Chinese support in his efforts to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table in order to end the conflict in Ukraine, with the goal of peace talks this summer.
  • Emmanuel Bonne, Macrons’ Foreign Policy Adviser intends to to work with Chinese diplomat Wang Yi on a possible negotiation framework.
  • G7 members claim they have a united front on their attitudes towards China but Macron suggested that Europe should step back from the conflict over Taiwan, which sent US lawmakers into a frenzy.

The background: During his recent trip to China, Macron failed to convince Chinese President Xi to talk to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. Many nations doubt that China can serve as a neutral intermediary given its close relationship with Russia. Macron’s visit to China has sparked discourse throughout Western Countries, who are hesitant over growing tensions with China. In particular US lawmakers have voiced their discontent with Macron.

Despite these concerns, Macron has continued to push for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis and believes that China can play a constructive role in resolving the conflict.

Likely Outcomes:

  • It remains to be seen whether Macron’s efforts to enlist China’s help in resolving the Ukraine conflict will bear fruit. China’s reluctance to be drawn into the issue may reflect concerns about damaging its relationship with Russia, which remains a key economic and strategic partner.
  • Western nations may be skeptical about China’s ability to play a constructive role in the region, given its own territorial disputes in the South China Sea and other areas.
  • Macron's call for Europe to step back from the Taiwan conflict is also likely to face resistance from other Western powers, particularly the United States, which has recently been strengthening ties with Taiwan in response to China's growing assertiveness in the region.


  • The chairman of the House Select Committee on China, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), said Macron’s comments “were embarrassing, they were disgraceful … and very geopolitically naive.”
  • “We acknowledge the need to work together with China on global challenges as well as areas of common interest, including on climate change, biodiversity, global health security, and gender equality.” – G7’s statement.

Good Reads:

Macron Wants China’s Help to Bring Russia, Ukraine to the Table (Bloomberg)

G-7 stresses unity on China following unease over Macron’s comments (Washington Post)

Macron 'working on secret plan' with China to end Ukraine war (Telegraph)