Xi, Macron hold talks, calling for upholding independence
Published: May 07, 2024 02:25 AM
Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, travel to the Elysee Palace by car with an escort of 146 cavalrymen from the Republican Guard and a motorcade, following the welcoming ceremony on May 6, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, travel to the Elysee Palace by car with an escort of 146 cavalrymen from the Republican Guard and a motorcade, following the welcoming ceremony on May 6, 2024. Photo: Xinhua


China and France should uphold mutual benefits, jointly oppose acts of "decoupling" and disrupting industrial and supply chains, and say no together to building barriers, President Xi Jinping made the remarks on Monday when holding talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

China and France should uphold independence and jointly fend off a "new Cold War" or bloc confrontation, Xi said, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Xi also attended a welcome ceremony held by Macron on Monday. 

Earlier on the day, Xi attended a China-France-EU trilateral meeting with President Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Elysee Palace.

In a signed article published Sunday in French media Le Figaro, Xi said we live in a world that is far from being tranquil and is once again facing a multitude of risks. China is ready to work with France in the spirit that guided the establishment of our diplomatic ties to forge a stronger comprehensive strategic partnership between our two countries and make new contributions to stronger cooperation of the global community.

Strategic guidance 

Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday that Xi's visit to France marks the climax of China's diplomacy toward Europe this year. And EU is crucial in the process of promoting political multipolarity and economic globalization.

On Tuesday, Macron will take Xi to the Pyrenees, a mountainous region dear to the French President as the birthplace of his maternal grandmother, according to Reuters. 

Such a special arrangement by Macron has the meaning of courtesy and shows the special relationship between the two heads of state, as well as a kind of frankness, analysts said.  

Tian Dewen, deputy director of the Institute of European Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that in the past five years, China-EU relations have encountered difficulties, but China-France relations have been relatively stable. This is directly related to the Macron government's implementation of positive and pragmatic relations with China. 

China is a very important external force for France and Europe to realize strategic autonomy, and it can certainly consolidate France's leading position in Europe if it can maintain a communicative and interactive relationship with China, experts said. 

Seeking consensus

China regards Europe as a priority of its major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and an important partner in achieving Chinese modernization, Xi said at China-France-EU trilateral meeting held earlier on Monday.

As the world enters a new period of turbulence and transformation, China and the EU, as two major forces in the world, should continue to see each other as partners, stay committed to dialogue and cooperation, deepen strategic communication, enhance strategic mutual trust, build strategic consensus, carry out strategic coordination, work for steady and sound growth of China-EU ties, and continue making new contributions to world peace and development, Xi said.

According to AFP, Macron told Xi that coordination with Beijing on "major crises" including Ukraine and the Middle East was "absolutely decisive" and essential.

He Zhigao, a research fellow with the Institute of European Studies from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said that the trilateral meeting highlights an important opportunity for China and Europe to strengthen high-level exchanges, communicate on major issues, and enhance strategic consensus. 

"By talking about some of the current challenges facing China-Europe relations and the demands of both sides, they can continue the stability and cooperation space of the current relations, so that the relations will not slide into a new Cold War led by the US. China-Europe relations now play a more important role in shaping global order than ever," He told the Global Times. 

Von der Leyen said that it is important that the EU maintains good relations with China, and this will determine whether global challenges such as climate change and the Ukraine crisis can be better addressed.

Xi urged the two sides to properly address economic and trade frictions through dialogue and consultation, and accommodate each other's legitimate concerns.

Whether viewed from the perspective of comparative advantage or global market demand, there is no such thing as "China's overcapacity problem," Xi said.

Sense of autonomy

Sun Keqin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that the US has very deep involvement in European affairs. 

"US interference remains, but Europe has kept a certain degree of autonomy and is able to cooperate with China, especially the French leadership which has always had a strong sense of strategic autonomy in a pragmatic manner," said Sun.

Through the visit of the Chinese top leader, Europeans will also have the opportunity to think about how to handle its relations with China, whether to follow the US to engage in confrontation and lose their own interests, or to jointly develop mutual benefits and get win-win results, the expert said.