China hoping for French election result that brings stability, not more uncertainty

By Song Shengxia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/25 1:18:39

European shares rallied on Monday and the euro briefly soared to a five-month high following the outcome of the first round of the French presidential election.

France is a pillar of the political stability and economic recovery of the European continent and the country's presidential election will be a test for the unity and stability of the eurozone. The market has been closely watching the election, which is seen as a barometer for French political and economic conditions.

Following Brexit last year, which dealt a blow to EU integration and brought intense market volatility, investors are hoping for a bit of stability in the EU. In a multi-polar world, China is also hoping for EU stability and would be more comfortable engaging with an EU that is capable of dealing with its own internal politics and advancing its own integration process. In this case, an outcome of the French election that threatens the stability of the eurozone and the political and economic stability of the EU is not a scenario China wants to see. Eurozone unity and EU stability is vital from a global perspective, but whether or not that prospect materializes depends on the choice of the French people and which candidate wins in the final runoff.  

Monday's upbeat sentiment came after the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen won the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, qualifying the two candidates for a final runoff in early May. The market had feared that Le Pen and far-left politician Jean Luc Melenchon, both of whom are euroskeptics, would make it to the final face-off, which would raise the possibility of "Frexit" - or France leaving the EU. Sunday's result allowed investors to breathe a sigh of relief as it reduced the chance of more Brexit-like shock and chaos.    

Macron, a former economy minister, is a stalwart of globalization and most favored by the market given his promises to adopt a policy for a stronger EU. He is now widely expected to win in the final round of the election next month. But Le Pen, who seeks to ditch the euro and may pull France out of the EU as well, still has a chance to win in the deciding vote, which could increase uncertainties. 

However, regardless of who wins, the result will definitely reshuffle France's political and economic landscape and may set a new tone for the political and economic relations between China and France. China is France's No.1 trading partner in Asia and No.5 globally while France is China's No.4 trading partner in the EU and No.3 overseas investment destination. The two economies are quite complementary. No matter who wins, China hopes France will have the courage to reform itself and maintain stability. Above all, France should show more confidence and sincerity to engage with a stronger China, both politically and economically. The country should put protectionism aside and promote a relationship with China that is truly reciprocal.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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