The Associated Press BEIJING (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday he hopes to forge a partnership with China on climate, security and other issues during a visit to expand European ties with Beijing.
The trip comes as Britain’s impending departure from the EU and the more inward-looking policies of U.S. President Donald Trump have raised the prospect of a possible realignment of global influence. China and France have promoted themselves as leaders on global warming after Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.
“I hope to strengthen our mutual trust during this visit and to use the five years of my term in office to promote Franco-Chinese relations and European-Chinese relations,” said Macron, standing with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, ahead of a meeting at a government guesthouse. Macron said he wanted to “strengthen collective security” and promote joint efforts to fight climate change.
Xi welcomed Macron in unusually effusive language. He noted France was the first Western country to form diplomatic ties with the Communist Beijing government and recalled that then-President Charles de Gaulle and Chinese leader Mao Zedong met in 1964.
“China and France are both great countries with splendid histories and the exchange and influence between us has deep historical significance for the world,” Xi said.
During their meeting, Macron and Xi discussed climate change, Chinese-French relations and Xi’s “Belt and Road Initiative” to build railways and other infrastructure across Asia and Europe, state television reported. The French leader said ahead of the meeting he wanted to talk about North Korea and fighting terrorist financing, but there was no immediate word on whether those were discussed.
Despite their public warmth, Macron’s visit is overshadowed by mounting trade tensions.
Britain’s departure from the EU will deprive Beijing of a prominent ally in opposing demands for tougher European anti-dumping measures against low-cost Chinese products.
Other EU members including France and Germany are pressing Beijing to give their companies reciprocity, or the same access to its state-dominated economy that Chinese companies enjoy abroad.