On Tuesday, the presidents of China and France promised closer partnership on climate, counter-terrorism, and other issues as their governments try to gain influence in a shifting global political landscape.
President Emmanuel Macron’s visit was billed as an effort to expand European ties and cooperation with China as Britain withdraws from the European Union and U.S. President Donald Trump advances more inward-looking policies. Though the visit produced no formal initiatives, Chinese President Xi Jinping said they would “make joint efforts to maintain multilateralism and improve global governance.”
Following Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreements, France and China have stood out as leaders in fighting global warming. Both countries are looking for bigger voices and roles in global economic and security management but their potential for cooperation might be impeded by trades and other disputes.
Xi told reporters that together “we will cope with global challenges such as climate change and terrorism.” He also said, in a meeting later with Chinese and French entrepreneurs, the two governments should defend the “current system of multilateral trade” – a reference to resisting Trump’s efforts to rewrite trade deals he says are unfair to the United States.
Macron said the two sides should “settle on an economic and geopolitical plan for the affairs of our world” and expressed hope they could produce a “strategic roadmap for the next five years.”
Despite their cordial tone, the visit between the two produced no breakthroughs on Europe’s frustration over China’s market barriers and complaints its exports of low-cost steel are threatening jobs in Europe.
A delegation of French business leaders travelling with the French leader signed cooperation agreements with Chinese partners, many of them government-owned, in energy, telecoms, aerospace, and other fields in hopes to secure business deals that might advance European demands for reciprocity, or gaining the same access to China’s state-dominated economy that its companies have abroad.
Earlier Tuesday, Macron urged Chinese to open their markets wider and warned lack of action might precipitate other countries to close their own. Macron also pointed to France’s 30 billion-euro trade deficit with China last year and warned it was politically unsustainable.
“If we don’t deal with this responsibly, the natural reaction, the one we’ve had for too long, will be to close up on both sides,” the French president said.
[via Washington Post]