Macron good for China ties

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/8 23:58:39

Healthy Sino-French relations benefit world: Xi

Outgoing French President Francois Hollande (center) and President-elect Emmanuel Macron attend a ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during World War II on Monday in Paris. Photo: AFP


Emmanuel Macron's victory in the French presidential election is good news for the EU, as well as for France's relations with China, experts said Monday.

Macron defeated his rival, far-right politician Marine Le Pen, in Sunday's presidential runoff vote. The victory makes the 39-year-old former economy minister the eighth and the youngest president of the French Fifth Republic.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of congratulations to the president-elect on Monday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

In his message, Xi said France was the first major Western country to have established diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China, and that maintaining the steady and healthy development of the China-France relationship benefits not only the two countries, but also the stability and peaceful development of the world.

Experts predict that Macron's win will see France stand closer with China due to their shared commitment to free trade, globalization, European integration and combating climate change.

Macron will seek deeper cooperation with China since France cannot revive its economy on its own, said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations. He said Macron's victory means France will remain on the side of Germany, while potentially distancing itself from US President Donald Trump, who has failed to support a united Europe, globalization and the Paris climate agreement.

"China supports European integration, free trade and globalization. China will also fulfill its promises on the issue of climate change," Chu said.

Strategic partnership

In March, Macron told media his views on France's relations with China for the first time, saying that "Bilateral relations between France and China boast a historical meaning," and "France has maintained a strategic partnership with China in many fields, especially in energy," French media outlet RFI reported.

Macron also stated that China now boasts a strong economy, foreign policy and military and has set a good and responsible example in making commitments to climate change. He said he hoped to further continue the friendly relations with China if elected president.

"If I were elected president, I would work to maintain the existing political and diplomatic relationship with China, since China is an important ally to France and Europe in fighting against terrorism, preventing climate change and promoting global and regional peace," Macron said.

On Europe, Macron said he would work to rebuild links between the EU and its people. Moreover, he said France is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, both on its own soil and on the international stage.

"Macron's victory comes as no surprise. On the issue of the EU, France can't act like the UK, because Brexit just means the EU has one fewer member, but if France leaves the EU then it will directly lead to the collapse of the whole union," said Feng Zhongping, director of European studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"France is a traditional land power of Europe and it cannot isolate itself from the continent … so Le Pen's far-right position which calls for France to quit the EU cannot win majority support," Wang Yiwei, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday.

Macron defeated Le Pen by around 66 percent to 34 percent, final results showed, France 24 reported. But turnout was lower than in the past 40 years, and one-third of those voting chose neither candidate, with 12 million abstaining and 4.2 million spoiled ballot papers, Reuters reported.

Speaking at a victory party in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris, Macron addressed supporters of his far-right rival and said he will do everything he can in the next five years to ensure that "they have no reason to vote for extreme parties."

"Macron's victory means continuity from Francois Hollande, but Le Pen's far-right supporters will not disappear and French society will be polarized," said Zheng Ruolin, an expert on French politics and social issues at Fudan University.

The problems that worry the French, like the terrorist threat, immigration crisis and sectarian friction, will not disappear, Wang said.

Macron's economic policy will also get closer to the right but social and security policies will go left, so is this workable for France? This will be a big question that Macron needs to answer when he formally takes office," Wang said.

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