This Sunday, March 24, 2019, Chinese flags are flying over Monaco. Xi Jinping, the Chinese president is expected at the princely palace. This is the first time that a Chinese head of state has officially visited the Principality. The same evening, he set sail for Beaulieu-sur-Mer, near Nice, to dine with the Macron couple, before starting, the next morning, a state visit to theHexagon. Behindera official smiles, thegetaway myéXi Jinping gasque irritates theElysée. At the Château, the visit is pervsue as a way for China to support Huawei.

In fact, while many European countries are taking measures to dismiss the Chinese industrialist, Monaco, for its part, is rolling out the red carpet for him. Originally, it was Prince Albert himself who asked Huawei to enter into an agreement in 5G in the Principality. It is signon September 7, 2018, in Beijing, in the presence of the Prince and Ren Zhengfei, the leader and founder of Huawei, with Monaco Telecom, 55% owned by Xavier Niel, via his personal holding company NJJ Capital. Three weeks later, the operator unveils its new 5G network with great fanfare at the Monaco Yacht Show. The event is once again celebrated in the presence of Albert II. At the time, the operator’s staff announced that the Principalityé will be fully covered in 5G in July 2019, a first in Europe. In two years, Monaco has therefore become the showcase for Huawei and its technology on the old continent. It is no coincidence that the Chinese group has decided to set up its R&D center in France in Sophia Antipolis, the “Silicon Valley” of the South of France near Nice.

Monaco Telecom is owned So to Xavier Niel, the founder of Free. And according to our information, a few days before Xi Jinping’s visit in Monaco, Emmanuel Macron asked Minister Bruno Le Maire during a defense council to summon the big boss of telecoms to ask him to stay away from the official Chinese visit. The prospect of seeing Xi Jinping visit Monaco Telecom and its 5G Huawei network, which was for a time considered in the presence of Xavier Niel, insuffed the Elysee. In the end, the boss of Free did not come to the Rock. And no trip to Monaco Telecom was included in the official program of the Chinese president. Sign of unease: Xavier Niel was also not present at the state dinner organized on Monday, March 25, in honor of Xi Jinping, at theElysée. A few days before said summons by Bruno Le Maire, Xavier Niel did not fail to express his dissatisfaction with his relatives in front of the “treatment” he suffered from the government.

When Niel compares Macron to Trump

Theepisode Monegasque illustrated the tensions that may exist behind the scenes between Xavier Niel and Emmanuel Macron on the telecoms file. The tycoon is however generally presented as a close friend of the President of the Republic. “For a boss, being close to power is not necessarily an advantage. Look at Pinault with Chirac, or Bouygues with Sarkozy », used to remind Alain Minc. Thus, at the beginning of the year, the boss of Free did not hesitate to castigate “A decision of the prince” concerning the appointment of MP Laure de La Raudière as president of Arcep, the telecoms regulator. A choice incoherent “, “Aberrant for competition” he criticized on BFM Business, since the elected representative worked for more than ten years at France Telecom between 1990 and 2001. In the eyes of Xavier Niel, theElysée has it all wrong, and her words are particularly virulent with regard to the Château: “I’m not sure Donald Trump would have dared to do something like vsa in the USA “, he launched a few days, barely, after the attack on the capitol by supporters of the American president. It is an understatement to say that this comparison of Emmanuel Macron with Donald Trump was hardly appreciated in high places.

If the Huawei case has poisoned relations between …