Increasingly, he noted, the only route Beijing could take is to be more co-operative in working out, such as lifting trade sanctions. A recent Chinese move to block imports to Lithuania, over its decision to allow Taiwan to open a de facto embassy, did not go down well with the Europeans, who in response developed their own tools to block what they see as economic coercion.
But the biggest sticking point will be the Ukraine war. Keen on burnishing his credentials as an interlocutor, Mr Macron has favoured personal talks with key players. But the opacity of the Chinese leadership has meant there is little available evidence Mr Xi can be easily influenced with such an approach.