French Media on Sixty Years of Franco-Chinese Relations

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Léa Gebuhrer and Leonardo Bruni

Sixty years ago, on January 27, 1964, France became one of the first Western European countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Establishing diplomatic ties with Beijing was a notable achievement for the French government of President Charles de Gaulle, successfully overcoming the constraints of the Cold War and eventually ushering a new phase of understanding and collaboration between the Western bloc and China.

Despite the significance of this diplomatic milestone (particularly for those mindful of the traditional sexagenary cycle) French President Emmanuel Macron and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, will not be meeting on the exact date of this anniversary. Instead, President Macron, filling in for Joe Biden, is in New Delhi as the guest of honor for India’s Republic Day celebrations.

The two leaders will instead reportedly meet in a couple of months’ time in France, with President Xi apparently planning on making Paris the Grand Départ of his first post-pandemic tour of Europe – excluding his brief trip to Moscow last March.

On the eve of this important anniversary, this edition of the ChinaMed Observer covers the French media debate on some of the major issues at play in Franco-Chinese relations.

For why it is important to cover the media debate one can look no further than POLITICO’s article on the statements Macron made during his return from China, specifically his stance on not necessarily “following the rhythm” of the United States.[1] In contrast to Les Echos that released a full transcript of the interview,[2] POLITICO’s rather editorialized article quickly spread, becoming POLITICO’s most-read piece of 2023 and sparking outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite analysts noting that Macron's contextualized remarks reflected long-held French views on the China-US rivalry as well as large segments of European public opinion, the ensuing media debate forced the French President to explain his position and reassure that France was not somehow equidistant between Washington and Beijing. However, as we note in this analysis, French perspectives on Franco-Chinese ties differ rather significantly from the more friendly relationship often portrayed in the English-language press.

This issue is divided into two parts. The first covers economic and trade concerns in this important bilateral relationship, including the recent anti-dumping probes on Chinese electric vehicles and on French brandies by the EU and China, respectively. The second section goes over French perceptions of China’s engagement in the wider Mediterranean region starting with Africa. We then cover French analysts’ comments on China’s role in the Middle East, distinguishing between prior and after October 7.

An Overview of Sino-French Trade and Economic Relations

According to our figures from ChinaMed Data, there was a noticeable slowdown in trade between France and China. The value of French imports from China declined slightly from USD 46.4 billion in 2021 to USD 46.1 billion in 2022, while the value of French exports to China plummeted from USD 39.1 billion to USD 35.6 billion during the same period.

The French Treasury attributed the decline in exports to factors such as the base effect of robust export growth in 2021, a decrease in agricultural exports due to transportation delays and reduced consumption, and a sluggish recovery of aeronautical sales. Conversely, the Treasury also reported a surge in imports of Chinese clothing, vehicles, and IT, industrial and electronic goods.

Source: ITC Trade Map

Between Strategic Autonomy and “De-Risking”: Macron and Le Maire in China

It is against the background of this “abysmal trade deficit” that President Macron, accompanied by a delegation of more than fifty French business leaders, visited China in April 2023.[3] During his stay, numerous large business deals were concluded between Chinese firms and French companies including Airbus, EDF, L'Oréal and Suez.[4] This, alongside the French President’s comments on “strategic autonomy,” caught many international commentators off guard and likely surprised his own travel companion, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who, right before departing for Beijing, introduced her proposal of “de-risking” relations.

While France subsequently supported the pledge to de-risk economic ties with China at the G7 Hiroshima summit in May 2023, Paris has been perceived by both Western and Chinese analysts as cautious on backing a more confrontational approach to China. This narrative gained an even stronger foothold in the English-language press with then Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s visit to France in May, Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang’s own trip to Paris in June, and the Commission presenting its “European Economic Security Strategy.” However, the notion that France is more amicable or even aligned with China and less concerned with economic security is not shared by many French analysts.

For example, Antoine Bondaz, associate professor at Sciences Po and research fellow at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, stated that while China perceives France and Germany as “the West’s soft white underbelly,” leaders from these countries “are very worried” about the growing trade deficit with China, particularly due to increasing Chinese vehicle imports.[5]

This sentiment is also echoed by Phillipe Le Corre, researcher at the Asia Society Policy Institute and professor at ESSEC Business School, who told Les Echos that “relations between France and China are bad,” as, due to growing mutual distrust:[6]

“the Chinese no longer invest much in Europe and France, and vice versa… [both sides] are cowering into their patriotism.”[7]

However, not all French commentators are pessimistic about the future of economic relations with China. In an interview for France 24, Mary-Françoise Renard, an economics professor at the University of Clermont Auvergne and director of the Institute of Research on China’s Economy, while acknowledging French businesses' well-founded concerns, expressed less alarm on the trade deficit. Due to structural reasons, according to Renard:

“the deficit is here to stay, and [it’s not necessarily a bad thing] if we hope to maintain the current level of household consumption.”[8]

Nevertheless, in late July 2023, this narrative of France being apparently Europe’s weak link with respect to China gained even more credence following French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire visit to China. During his stay, Le Maire told journalists that “decoupling is an illusion.” On the topic of de-risking, the minister explained that it “means that we want to be more independent” in certain strategic economic sectors but that it “does not mean that China is a risk.”

While these comments were interpreted as proof of France breaking ranks with the West across the Chinese press,[9] Les Echos journalist Guillaume de Calignon, instead depicted Minister Le Maire’s trip as an attempt to balance between “seduction and distrust,” to “attract Chinese investors to France, while defending the concept of strategic autonomy.”[10]

Indeed, during his stay in China, Le Maire requested from his Chinese counterparts a “rebalancing” of Sino-French trade relations through “reciprocity” and “conditions of fair competition, transparency and predictability in market access”. Moreover, while visiting the Chinese technology capital of Shenzhen, he also strongly encouraged Chinese firms, and in particular electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD, to invest in France.

Source: PRC Ministry of Finance

No Drinking and Driving: The EU’s EV Probe and China’s Retaliation against French Brandy

As we have recently covered through the case of Türkiye, the EV sector is increasingly becoming a battleground as governments attempt to secure a slice of the developing electric car supply chain. China has become the country to beat, with its firms – BYD, Nio, Geely and Chery – having cornered a commanding lead in the EV market across much of the world.

The EU market is no exception with rising Chinese vehicle imports provoking much concern in member states, in particular in France, home to a large automotive industry and the companies Stellantis and Renault.

Numerous French media outlets have been publishing countless articles sounding the alarm on the increasing availability of Chinese EVs at competitive prices. For instance, Le Monde analyzed how “the Chinese automotive superpower” poses an “existential challenge for traditional manufacturers,” while Le Figaro questioned whether Chinese EVs will “take over Europe.”[11] Meanwhile, the weekly conservative news magazine Le Point connected the success of “the impressive Chinese offensive in Europe,” to the EU ban on the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines from 2035 onwards.[12]

This distress in the French media’s reporting reflects a very real concern shared by the French government. Thus, similarly to Türkiye, France over the last year has begun to push for and implement a series of measures to not to get cut out of the EV sector.

Firstly, Paris has actively sought investment from Chinese EV and battery firms, attracting them to establish production in France rather than in other EU member states. French efforts have achieved some success, with the Chinese battery manufacturer XTC New Energy Materials choosing to collaborate with the French nuclear company Orano. Under this arrangement XTC is investing €1.5 billion to build three battery factories and a research center near Dunkirk, an area which Paris envisions transforming into the EU’s “Battery Valley.”[13]

Despite these achievements, France failed to secure the site for Chinese EV giant BYD’s first European factory, which will instead be located in Hungary.[14] However, this might not necessarily be a significant setback, as France is also wishes to reduce its dependence on China by supporting domestic battery manufacturers, including those operated by Stellantis, Renault, and Velkor. Moreover, France has achieved success in securing other investments, notably a €5.2 billion commitment from the Taiwanese battery manufacturer ProLogium.

The second measure that France implemented was the decision the French Ministry of Economics and Finance to exclude all Chinese brands and manufactured EVs from being eligible for the so-called “ecological bonus.”

Finally, the French government has actively lobbied at the EU level for the European Commission to introduce trade barriers aimed at curbing the influx of Chinese EV imports.[15] The focus has been on initiating a “dumping” probe, which, if China is found to be providing excessive subsidies, would permit Brussels to implement EU-wide tariffs. President Macron, Finance Minister Le Maire, and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton have all advocated for launching such an investigation.[16]

Despite opposition from Germany, France succeeded and during her State of the Union Address on 13 September 2023, Commission President Von der Leyen announced an investigation into alleged dumping by China in the electric car sector. Subsequently, on 4 October 2023, the Commission published a notice initiating EU anti-subsidy investigations into the import of battery electric vehicles from China.

While many French commentators and representatives of French automotive industries celebrated these measures,[17] some regarded them as insufficient to support French industry,[18] while others expressed more critical perspectives. Regarding criticism, it was questioned whether excluding Chinese EVs from receiving the ecological bonus was instrumentalizing the fight against climate change for geoeconomic goals and if this could be detrimental to France’s objective of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.[19]

Others instead critiqued how these measures are clearly protectionist and could impact consumers, as well as the rules and principles of international trade.[20] On this note, Elvire Fabry, a researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute in charge of the geopolitics of trade, was quoted by weekly financial newspaper La Tribune affirming that “We are on a precarious path that requires a lot of vigilance. With China's massive subsidies in favor of the Chinese automotive industry, we have shifted from adhering to fair competition rules to a power dynamic based on competition distortions.”[21]

For Bernard Jullien, an economics professor at the University of Bordeaux and a specialist in the automotive industry, the EU is simply fighting a “rearguard battle.”[22] Once Chinese EV firms establish production within the EU, he asserts that “no customs barrier can stop them anymore” and “nothing will then prevent French social leasing from being used to finance a Chinese electric car.”[23] Moreover, on the competition between member states to attract Chinese manufacturers, Jullien warns that these firms will likely bring along “a network of Chinese subcontractors as well.”[24] Nevertheless, the economist concluded on an optimistic note, affirming that:

“These new competitors will not kill the European automobile industry, which has already survived the arrival of Japanese and Korean competitors.”[25]

Regardless of the internal French media debate, the Chinese press and commentators were all very critical of the measures impacting the market access and competitiveness of EVs made in China.[26] Chinese officials also weighed in, with Chinese Ambassador to the EU Fu Cong criticizing the EU probe as “unfair,” stating that if Beijing behaved as Brussels, “there are many things that could be subject to investigation.”[27]

On this note, on January 5, 2024, China opened its own anti-dumping investigation on brandy imported from the EU. While many EU member states produce distilled grape wines spirits (i.e. Spanish Sherry), French cognac and armagnac accounted for 99.8% of all brandies imported by China from the EU from January to November 2023 according to Chinese customs data.[28] The measure immediately seriously impacted the stock price of many French brandy brands including Pernod Ricard and Rémy Cointreau.[29]

Most French newspapers interpreted the measure as Beijing’s retaliation against France for its support for the EU’s Chinese EV probe.[30] Le Figaro for instance, in an article suggestively titled “China attacks European cognac,” interviewed Raphaël Delpech, director general of the Bureau national interprofessionnel du Cognac, who explained how Beijing’s accusations are baseless and how cognac producers “can't help but think that we are a collateral victim. Cognac is France.”[31]

On why the Chinese decided to choose to retaliate through cognac, besides being a way to directly and solely punish France among all EU member states, Les Echos also recalled the previous China-EU trade dispute in 2013, when in response to a German complaint on Chinese solar panels, Beijing initiated its own trade investigation on European wines.[32]

French Perspectives on China in the Wider Mediterranean

Beyond bilateral economic and trade relations, the French press, unlike many of the media ecosystems we cover here at the ChinaMed Project, is very active in reporting on international affairs and events. As such, China, with growing global role, is a frequent object of discussion in French news outlets. Interest in Chinese foreign policy has become even greater against the background of the recent efforts under Macron’s presidency to increase French engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Indeed, in 2023, Paris updated its Indo-Pacific strategy and Macron visited Mongolia, Uzbekistan, India, Bangladesh and the South Pacific. One example of the interest in the affairs of this expansive region can be noted in the massive amount coverage that the elections in Taiwan have received in the French press.

While many French analysts seem to consider the Indo-Pacific as the critical region where Paris must be more active in order to engage and compete with Beijing,[33] Chinese influence is also clearly well-established in France’s own “neighborhood,” the wider Mediterranean region. This Chinese presence in Africa and the Middle East, as we will see, has not been well-received by French commentators. However, with growing international tensions, there is a growing a debate in France on whether China is a negative actor, or if Beijing is a necessary partner for returning stability to the region.

Chinese Engagement in Africa

As highlighted in last year’s ChinaMed Report, French media tends to adopt a negative perspective on China’s expanding role in the wider Mediterranean region. This resentment is particularly evident in discussions regarding Chinese engagement in Africa, sometimes paternalistically portrayed by French commentators as detrimental to locals and to France’s interests on the continent.[34]

A surge of such coverage occurred last summer in the context of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s state visit to China in July and the 2023 BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa in August.[35] However, the ousting of President of Niger Mohamed Bazoum in a military coup d'état, triggered the largest number of articles on how “Chinafrique” is expanding at France’s expense.

For instance, LOpinion, a liberal newspaper, stated that:

“China observes events in the country with a distance but is not unhappy to see Western influence decline.”[36]

The right-wing magazine Marianne instead reported on Chinese interests in acquiring Nigerien oil and uranium, suggesting that Beijing could “help the junta resist an embargo.”[37] Reacting to the Chinese ambassador’s offer to mediate a political solution to the crisis, La Tribune affirmed that:

“Beijing no longer hides its desire for influence in Africa and in the world’s hot spots.”[38]

It is noteworthy that, with the exception of reporting by Le Monde,[39] French analyses diverged from those offered by other Western commentators, who generally portray China as concerned over the ongoing spread of political instability in Africa due to the risk it poses to Chinese energy and infrastructure investments.

However, in recent months, particularly against the background of increasing reports on China’s domestic economic challenges and the rapid drop in Chinese lending overseas, French reporting on Africa has begun to reassess the future of Chinese economic engagement on the continent, noting the myriad of issues related to debt sustainability and Beijing’s declining interest in financing large infrastructure projects.[40]

Demonstrating decreasing French concern for China’s role in Africa is the almost complete absence of French media coverage of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent trip to Africa (January 13-18), which took him to new BRICS member Egypt and the three former French colonies of Tunisia, Togo and Cote d'Ivoire (for Tunisian and Egyptian point of view on this visit check out our recent analysis).

Nevertheless, when it comes to China’s diplomatic role in Africa, the French perspective has been significantly influenced by ongoing events in the Middle East.

Chinese Engagement in the Middle East before October 7

Turning our attention to the Middle East, French commentators, like their counterparts around the world, expressed considerable surprise at the China-mediated reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March 2023. In the months following the “Beijing Agreement,” many analysts characterized the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement as a clear example of China stepping into the vacuum left by the West in the region.

Gilles Kepel, a specialist in Arabic and Islamic studies and professor at École normale supérieure, stated in an article for Le Figaro that this agreement “is a great leap forward for Beijing’s superpower status in a region that is key to its oil and gas supplies” and makes “the traditionally influential US and the EU look at best impotent”.[41]

Political scientist Dominique Moïsi, co-founder of Institut Français des Relations Internationales, described the China-brokered deal as a “revolution,” affirming that:

“In the global diplomatic imagination, America must now share first place with China”.[42]

A more critical perspective came from François Godement, Senior Resident Expert and Special Advisor at Institut Montaigne. In the introduction to a report on Chinese diplomacy in the Middle East (to which ChinaMed Head of Research Andrea Ghiselli also contributed), Godement noted that while these “brilliant strokes of its public diplomacy are the sign of a growing capacity for influence,” China’s peace proposals lack substance and its mediation abilities are more rooted in negative factors than positive qualities.[43]

Nevertheless, the narrative of Beijing as a growing, or even the dominant diplomatic power in the Middle East continued to gain traction in the French press, especially after Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s state visit to China in September 2023 (read our article on the Chinese perspective on this visit).[44] Commenting on this trip for Le Figaro, Fabrice Balanche, a professor at University of Lyon 2 and an associate researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, asserted that

“China simply wants to replace the United States in the Middle East.”[45]

Chinese Engagement in the Middle East after October 7

If any belief lingered among French commentators that China had effectively brought peace to the Middle East and triggered a “wave of reconciliation” across the region, it quickly evaporated after October 7. The attack by Hamas and the beginning of retaliatory military operations by the Israeli Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip led many to reassess China’s diplomatic capacity in the wider Mediterranean region.[46]

In this context, during the early weeks of the war in Gaza, the potential role of Chinese influence and the prospect of Beijing mediating were not considered credible by numerous French analysts, despite China’s strong ties with both Israel and the Palestinians.[47] This skepticism stemmed from Beijing’s response, which, instead of strongly condemning, or even naming, Hamas in its statements, promptly called for a ceasefire and advocated for the implementation of a two-state solution.

In a comment for Les Echos, Jean-Francois Di Meglio, the President and Co-founder of the Paris-based think tank Asia Centre, expressed the view that China, despite its desire to “pose as a mediator,” is hindered by being too close to Iran (as our analysis shows, many Iranian analysts would disagree) and “does not have the means or the necessary influence in the region to bring about a significant change in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”[48]

Meanwhile, Dominique Moïsi, in another article for Les Echos, affirmed that China

“has remained relatively discrete since the start of the Gaza war… demonstrating the fragility of the [Beijing Agreement].”[49]

Even more critical voices were cited in an article for the Catholic newspaper La Croix in response to Xi Jinping’s statement on October 19, following his meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli in Beijing.[50] In this statement, the Chinese President asserted that China is ready to play a role and “inject more certainty and stability into the region.”

One comment was that of Robert Dujarric, the co-director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo, who stated that “has no space to enter dialogue” as “Israel has no interest in Beijing mediating” due to “China having a rather pro-Hamas stance.”[51]

Another French voice quoted by La Croix is that of Valerie Niquet, a political scientist specialized in Asia at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, who affirmed that its attempts to present itself as a peacemaker are a “simple display” since, “in practical terms, it cannot do anything” and because:[52]

“China is a diplomatic featherweight in the Middle East”[53]

In a subsequent article for La Croix echoing this sentiment, François Heisbourg, Senior Advisor at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Special Advisor at Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, doubted whether Beijing can play a decisive role, stating that:

“China has as much trouble as other major powers in managing complexity on a global scale.”[54]

However, as the war in Gaza continues, the death toll rises to the tens of thousands, and global disapproval of Israel’s conduct grows, perceptions in France have become much more polarized on China’s role in the conflict.

On one hand, some French commentators view China as an actor interested in restoring regional stability, seeing the country as a necessary and inevitable partner in solving the conflict.[55] This perspective gained prominence after Paris began affirming and reiterating the need for a ceasefire and a two-state solution. The relevance of this view increased following the discussion on the Palestine-Israeli conflict between Macron and Xi Jinping over the phone on November 20, 2023. According to the Chinese read-out, the two heads of state “agreed that the ‘two-state solution’ was the fundamental solution to resolving the recurrence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and “agreed to continue to maintain communication on international and regional issues of common concern and contribute to maintaining world peace and stability.”

An illustration of a more cooperative perspective towards China is evident in an article from Le Monde, featuring Fatiha Dazi-Héni, a Gulf specialist at the Institute for Strategic Research at the Ecole Militaire, who affirmed that:

“We have to take seriously China's willingness to push for a political solution because the vast majority of its interests [mainly oil imports] are in this region and it has no interest in seeing a regional explosion and the war will spread with this chaos,”[56]

On the other hand, other analysts, particularly those contributing to right-wing media outlets, appear to perceive China as a negative actor in the conflict, believing that Beijing is not interested in restoring peace. More skeptical perspectives even suggest that China is using the chaos and global polarization provoked by the war as part of its campaign to undermine the Western-led international order.[57]

An example of a China-skeptic perspective can be found in an article for Le Figaro, which quotes Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former French diplomat and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for whom “[the Chinese] keep saying they are for peace, but these are just words.”[58] This same article also includes a comment from Justin Vaïsse, the Director General of the Paris Peace Forum, who affirmed that:

“the Chinese don't want to get their socks wet and [would rather] let the Americans get bogged down. They are not equipped for this crisis.”[59]

La Tribune editorialist François Clemenceau also dismissed the idea that China could assist with ensuring freedom of navigation in the Red Sea against Houthi attacks as “highly improbable” as “the communist authorities in Beijing have mistreated [international maritime law] on a daily basis and for long time in the waters of the [East and South China Sea].”[60]

A more fearful perspective of China’s alleged stance in the Middle East is articulated by Le Figaro columnist Nicolas Baverez, who suggested that “The Gaza war [is accelerating] the rapprochement between the [Global] South and authoritarian empires against Western democracies” and that:

“the empire-based peace touted by China and Russia implies the eradication of freedom and the widespread enslavement of men.”[61]

In less dramatic terms, the perspective that China’s strategic position has benefited from this conflict is shared by Denis Bauchard, the former MENA area director at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former president of the Institut du Monde arabe, who, in an interview for the Lebanese French-language newspaper L’Orient Le Jour, stated that that China, along with Russia, are the provisional “winners” of the war in Gaza, having managed to “supplant the influence of the United States and Europe” in the region.[62]

In summary, although we can note some trends and ideological factors in the French media debate, there is nevertheless a whole spectrum of perspectives among French commentators on China’s current and future role in a post-October 7 Middle East. While some analysts see China as a nefarious actor with ulterior motives, others see it as possible partner which earnestly desires peace and stability. Though numerous commentators perceive Beijing as a diplomatic regional superpower, several continue to consider China as a diplomatic non-entity, either due to not wanting or being capable to get involved.


While there exists in the minds of numerous international and Chinese commentators the notion that France leans more favorably towards China, through our analysis, we demonstrate that despite Paris exhibiting some willingness to cooperate with China as part of its objective of strategic autonomy, this anniversary is more dominated by growing hostility than collaboration as the two countries find themselves at the forefront of the escalating trade war between the EU and China. The evolving perspectives within the French media underscore a growing sense of distrust toward Beijing. While it is true that several French analysts recognize China as a necessary partner in addressing specific international issues, growing concerns over the trade deficit, Chinese dominance in EVs, and its involvement in Africa and the Middle East consistently elicit apprehension in the press.

Indeed, on China in the wider Mediterranean, our media review shows an increasing French hostility towards Chinese regional engagement. It awaits to be seen if the Paris will take a more active role to contrast perceived expansion by Beijing or if it will instead collaborate with China in the attempt to bring stability to the region.

Léa GEBUHRER is Research Fellow at the ChinaMed Project. She is a graduate of the Sciences Po-Peking University Dual Master’s Degree in International Relations. Her research interests include the media coverage of China in Francophone countries and global water resource issues.

Leonardo BRUNI is Research Fellow at the ChinaMed Project. He is also a Research Fellow at the University of Milan and a graduate of the Sciences Po-Peking University Dual Master’s Degree in International Relations. His research interests include China-EU relations and international development cooperation.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.

[1] Jamil Anderlini and Clea Caulcutt, Europe must resist pressure to become ‘America’s followers,’ says Macron, POLITICO, April 9, 2023, link.

[2] Nicolas Barré, Emmanuel Macron : « L'autonomie stratégique doit être le combat de l'Europe » [Emmanuel Macron: “Strategic autonomy must be Europe’s fight”], Les Echos, April 9, 2023, link.

[3] Hubert Testard, France-Chine : comment rebondir ? [France-China: how to bounce back?], Asialyst, April 1, 2023, link; Frédéric Schaeffer, Avec la Chine, un déficit commercial toujours plus abyssal [With China, an ever more abysmal trade deficit], Les Echos, April 5, 2023, link.

[4] Véronique Guillermard, Airbus, Suez, EDF... Pluie de contrats en Chine pendant la visite d’Emmanuel Macron [Airbus, Suez, EDF... It is raining contracts in China during Emmanuel Macron's visit], Le Figaro, April 7, 2023, link; Clara Bauer-Babef, La France signe une série d’accords économiques avec la Chine [France signs a series of economic agreements with China], Euroactiv France, April 7, 2023, link.

[5] Natasha Li, New Chinese premier’s visit to Germany, France highlights strained relations with EU, France 24, June 19, 2023, link.

[6] Guillaume de Calignon, Le difficile déplacement de Bruno Le Maire en Chine [Bruno Le Maire's difficult trip to China], Les Echos, July 28, 2023, link.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Natasha Li, France-China trade ties: 'There is a greater risk due to the current geopolitical climate', France 24, April 7, 2023, link.

[9] Chen Qingqing and Qi Xijia, France opposes 'decoupling' after economic talks with China, Global Times, July 30, 2023, link; GT Voice: France should bring rational voice to EU trade policy on China, Global Times, July 30, 2023, link;

[10] Guillaume de Calignon, A Pékin, Bruno Le Maire ouvre grand la porte aux investisseurs chinois, Les Echos, July 29, 2023, link.

[11] Eric Béziat, La superpuissance automobile chinoise, un défi existentiel pour les constructeurs classiques [The Chinese automotive superpower, an existential challenge for traditional manufacturers], Le Monde, June 27, 2023, link; Sylvain Reisser, Voitures électriques: la Chine va-t-elle rafler la mise en Europe ? [Electric cars: will China take over in Europe], Le Figaro, August 28, 2023, link.

[12] Olivier Ubertalli, Automobile : l’impressionnante offensive chinoise en Europe [Automobile: the impressive Chinese offensive in Europe], Le Point, September 6, 2023, link.

[13] Florence Traullé, Les Hauts-de-France veulent devenir la vallée européenne de la batterie électrique, [Hauts-de-France wants to become the European valley of electric batteries], Le Monde, May 11, 2023, link.

[14] Bastien Bonnefous and Jean-Bapiste Chastand, La Hongrie en passe de gagner la bataille européenne de la voiture électrique [Hungary on the verge of winning the European electric car battle], Le Monde, January 19, 2024, link.

[15] Barbara Moens, Jakob Hanke Vela, Joshua Posaner, Hans von der Burchard, Giorgio Leali, and Camille Gijs, France presses EU to threaten trade war against China, POLITICO, June 15, 2023, link.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Sophie Fay, Automobile : le nouveau bonus écologique pénalisera les voitures chinoises [Automobile : the new ecological bonus will penalize Chinese cars], Le Monde, August 28, 2023, link.

[18] Marie Nidiau, Voitures électriques : le bonus écologique va-t-il vraiment profiter à l'industrie française ? [Electric cars: will the ecological bonus really benefit French industry?], La Tribune, September 19, 2023, link.

[19] Guillaume Guichard, Automobile : comment le futur bonus écologique bannira les voitures chinoises [Automobile: how the future ecological bonus will ban Chinese cars], Les Echos, August 3, 2023, link.

[20] Eric Gibory, [A more demanding ecological bonus to curb imports of Chinese electric cars], Le Monde, October 25, 2023, link.

[21] Marie Nidiau, Bonus écologique : en pleine polémique avec la Chine, la France dévoile son plan pour favoriser les voitures européennes [Ecological bonus: in the midst of a controversy with China, France unveils its plan to favor European cars], La Tribune, September 18, 2023, link.

[22] André Thomas, La voiture électrique chinoise BYD a doublé Tesla et s’apprête à conquérir l’Europe, voici comment [The Chinese electric car BYD has overtaken Tesla and is preparing to conquer Europe, here's how], Ouest-France, January 3, 2024, link.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Chen Weihua, Von der Leyen probe draws sharp criticism, China Daily, September 14, 2023, link; Wen Sheng, EU’s anti-subsidy probe against Chinese EVs is protectionist move, clouding economic ties, Global Times, September 21, 2023, link.

[27] Tom Hancock & Kevin Whitelaw, China Says EU’s ‘Unfair’ EV Subsidies Probe Risks Damaging Ties, Bloomberg, January 24, 202

[28] Casey Hall and Dominique Vidalon, China targets EU brandy in tit-for-tat anti-dumping probe, Reuters, January 5, 2024, link.

[29] Laurence Girard, Cognac rocked by China's anti-dumping investigation into European wine spirits [Cognac rocked by China's anti-dumping investigation into European wine spirits], Le Monde, January 8, 2024, link.

[30] Cognac, armagnac… La Chine ouvre une enquête sur des produits importés de France [Cognac, Armagnac… China opens an investigation into products imported from France], Le Parisien, January 5, 2024, link.

[31] Manon Malhère, La Chine s'attaque au cognac européen [China attacks European cognac], Le Figaro, January 5, 2024, link.

[32] Marie-Josée Cougard, Cognac : la Chine s'en prend à l' eau-de-vie européenne [Cognac: China attacks European brandy], Les Echos, January 5, 2024, link.

[33] Antoine Bondaz, « Si la France veut convaincre en Indo-Pacifique, il faut qu’elle s’appuie sur le concept de “puissance d’initiatives et de solutions” » [“If France wants to convince in the Indo-Pacific, it must rely on the concept of “power of initiatives and solutions””], Le Monde, July 24, 2023, link.

[34] Frédéric Bobin, « Entre la Chine et l’Afrique, la relation est profondément asymétrique » [“Between China and Africa, the relationship is deeply asymmetrical”], Le Monde, November 21, 2021, link; Yves Bourdillon, Sahel: derrière la rivalité économique franco-chinoise, la Russie aux abonnés absents [Sahel: behind the Franco-Chinese economic rivalry, Russia is absent], Les Echos, August 2, 2023, link; Sébastian Seibt, Vente d’armes chinoises en Afrique : Pékin à l’assaut de nouveaux amis à tout prix [Chinese arms sale in Africa: Beijing on the warpath for new friends at all costs], France 24, August 25, 2023, link; François Miguet, Comment la Chine fait main basse sur le sous-sol africain [How China is taking control of what’s underneath the African soil], Le Point, October 22, 2023, link.

[35] Louise Brosolo, Économie, diplomatie, adhésion aux Brics : les enjeux de la visite du président algérien à Pékin [Economy, diplomacy, membership of the BRICS: the challenges of the Algerian president's visit to Beijing], France 24, July 21, 2023, link; Raphaël Laurent, Sommet des Brics : à Johannesburg, Xi Jinping veut draguer l’Afrique [Brics Summit: in Johannesburg, Xi Jinping wants to flirt with Africa], Ouest France, August 21, 2023, link; Bruno Philip, Mathilde Boussion, Carole Dieterich, Simon Leplâtre, Bruno Meyerfeld, and Benoît Vitkine, La Chine veut faire des BRICS un concurrent du G7 [China wants to make BRICS a competitor to the G7], Le Monde, August 22, 2023, link.

[36] Claude Leblanc, Niger: entre prudence et pragmatisme, Pékin avance à pas feutrés [Niger: between caution and pragmatism, Beijing is moving slowly], l’Opinion, August 2, 2023, link.

[37] Jean-Christophe Servant, Niger : derrière l'agonie de l'influence française, la Chine et le "Sud global" misent sur la junte [Niger: behind the agony of French influence, China and the “Global South” are banking on the junta], Marianne, August 18, 2023, link.

[38] La Chine veut jouer les médiateurs au Niger [China wants to play mediator in Niger], La Tribune, September 5, 2023, link.

[39] Frédéric Lemaître, La Chine reste très prudente face aux coups d’Etat en Afrique [China remains very cautious about coups in Africa], Le Monde, September 1, 2023, link; Marion Douet, Au Niger, le coup d’Etat a figé le projet pétrolier, avant que le business ne reprenne ses droits [In Niger, the coup d'état froze the oil project, before business regained its rights], Le Monde, January 11, 2024, link.

[40] Marie de Vergès, « Le couple Chine-Afrique est à un point d’inflexion » [“The China-Africa couple is at an inflection point”], Le Monde, September 28, 2023, link; Marie de Vergès & Frédéric Lemaître,

[41] Gilles Kepel, Gilles Kepel : «La Chine conforte son statut de superpuissance au Moyen-Orient» [Gilles Kepel: “China consolidates its superpower status in the Middle East”], Le Figaro, March 17, 2023, link [English version available at Al-Monitor, link].

[42] Dominique Moïsi, Moyen-Orient : la « troisième voie » chinoise [Middle East: China’s “third way”], Les Echos, March 18, 2023, link.

[43] François Godement, Introduction in China Trends #16 Chinese Diplomacy in the Middle East: The Facts Behind a Success, Institut Montaigne, July 2023, link.

[44] Frédéric Lemaître and Hélène Sallon, En Chine, Bachar Al-Assad conclut un « partenariat stratégique » avec Xi Jinping [In China, Bashar Al-Assad concludes a “strategic partnership” with Xi Jinping], Le Monde, September 23, 2023, link; Damas noue un partenariat stratégique avec Pékin pour accélérer la reconstruction de la Syrie [Damascus forms a strategic partnership with Beijing to accelerate the reconstruction of Syria], La Tribune, September 22, 2023, link; Jean-Marc Gonin, Au Moyen-Orient, un jeu de go oppose chinois et américains [In the Middle East, a game of go pits Chinese and Americans against each other], Le Figaro, September 29, 2023, link.

[45] Amaury Coutansais-Pervinquière, Bachar Al-Assad à Pékin : «La Chine veut remplacer les États-Unis au Moyen-Orient» [Bashar Al-Assad in Beijing: “China wants to replace the United States in the Middle East”], Le Figaro, September 21, 2023, link.

[46] Frédéric Lemaître, Le conflit au Proche-Orient relativise le bilan des « nouvelles routes de la soie » [The conflict in the Middle East puts the results of the “new silk roads” into perspective], Le Monde, October 18, 2023, link.

[47] Hubert Testard, Pourquoi l’Asie ne soutient pas Israël dans sa guerre contre le Hamas [Why Asia does not support Israel in its war against Hamas], Asialyst, October 21, 2023, link; Frédéric Lemaître, La Chine accentue son soutien à la Palestine et critique Israël [China steps up support for Palestine and criticizes Israel], Le Monde, October 15, 2023, link.

[48] Frédéric Schaeffer, La Chine sur la corde raide face au conflit entre Israël et le Hamas [China on a tightrope in the face of the conflict between Israel and Hamas], Les Echos, October 12, 2023, link.

[49] Dominique Moïsi, Trois Etats pour un conflit [Three states for one war], Les Echos, November 21, 2023, link.

[50] Dorian Malovic, Guerre Israël-Hamas : la Chine veut être un « faiseur de paix » [Israel-Hamas war: China wants to be a “peacemaker”], La Croix, October 20, 2023, link.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Olivier Tallès, Guerre Israël-Hamas, le désordre mondial [Israel-Hamas war, global disorder], La Croix, September 11, 2023, link.

[55] Claude Leblanc, Conflit à Gaza: pourquoi la Chine va devoir s’impliquer davantage dans la sortie de crise [Conflict in Gaza: why China will have to become more involved in ending the crisis], l’Opinion, November 22, 2023, link.

[56] Frédéric Lemaître & Hélène Sallon, Guerre Israël-Hamas : à Pékin, les pays arabes et musulmans cherchent un soutien pour un cessez-le-feu à Gaza [Gaza ceasefire: Arab and Muslim countries seek Beijing's support], Le Monde, November 21, 2023, link [available in English, link].

[57] François Clemenceau, Proche-Orient : les torticolis de Xi Jinping [Middle East: Xi Jinping’s headache], La Tribune, October 29, 2023, link; Luc de Barochez, Israël, la guerre subie [Israel, the war it is forced to suffer], Le Point, January 16, 2023, link.

[58] Sébastien Falletti, Les ambitions de la Chine à l’épreuve de la crise de Gaza [China's ambitions tested by the Gaza crisis], Le Figaro, December 22, 2023, link.

[59] Ibid.

[60] François Clemenceau, De la mer Rouge aux mers de Chine [From the Red Sea to the China Seas], La Tribune, December 17, 2023, link.

[61] Nicolas Baverez, Nicolas Baverez : «La révolte du Sud contre l’Occident» [Nicolas Baverez: “The revolt of the South against the West”], Le Figaro, October 23, 2023, link.

[62] Karim Bitar, Denis Bauchard : « L’influence de la Russie et de la Chine tend à supplanter celle des États-Unis et de l’Europe » [Denis Bauchard: “The influence of Russia and China tends to supplant that of the United States and Europe”], L’Orient Le Jour, December 4, 2023, link.

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Published with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation pursuant to art. 23-bis of Presidential Decree 18/1967. The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
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