‘I love you Macron!’ French leader gets rock star welcome in China

‘I love you Macron!’ French leader gets rock star welcome in China
Опубликовано: Friday, 07 April 2023 16:39

The French president faces fire and fury on the streets of Paris, but in China crowds of students adore him.


GUANGZHOU, China — French President Emmanuel Macron cemented his status as a rock star on the world stage on Friday as he toured the campus of a top university in southern China accompanied by rapturous applause and screaming fans.

As soon as his official motorcade arrived on the grounds of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the huge crowds of waiting students broke into ecstatic cheers that crescendoed every time he waved to them.

There were swoons and screams of “I love you Macron” as the French president worked the reception line surrounded by burly Chinese and French secret service officers.

One senior member of Macron’s entourage remarked on the contrast with back home, since he wouldn’t even be able to set foot on the campus of a French university these days for fear of being lynched by angry protesters who oppose his pension reforms.

His star turn and spontaneous popularity also contrasted with China’s wooden communist leaders, none of whom have even half the charisma of Macron and who are generally only greeted with enthusiasm when it is in the job description of the crowd.

One other member of the delegation noted Macron’s aura of “La coolitude” — a slightly studied but still genuine coolness — was at its apogee in this setting.

After glad-handing and waving throughout the campus, Macron moved into the university gymnasium, where the atmosphere was more subdued. This probably had something to do with the three hours the model students had been made by their teachers to wait for the French president.

Macron said a few Cantonese words of greeting then proceeded to speak for nearly half an hour before taking questions — all asked in French — from three handpicked students whose questions had clearly been vetted to avoid even the tiniest hint of politics or controversy.

Even with such thin gruel to work with, Macron still managed to reference freedom of speech and thought, and encourage the study of the French language. He urged his audience to worry about global instability and China’s potential place in the world.

He was then whisked off to the grounds of a beautiful guesthouse on the fringe of Guangzhou city, where Chinese President Xi Jinping waited for him on a little bridge across a pond under the shade of perfectly manicured firs, pines and palm trees.

As they greeted each other, a pair of swans coasted serenely by.

Nearly three hours later, the two leaders were still locked in discussions, which apparently touched on everything from the Ukraine war to European unity.

Xi assured Macron that Ukraine was not China’s war and China was not supplying Russia with weapons. The two apparently also had a frank discussion on the self-ruled democratic island of Taiwan, which China claims as its territory and has repeatedly threatened to invade.

Xi’s message was that he doesn’t currently have any plans to attack. But accidents can happen.

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