China and France pledged yesterday to promote a new international order that was not dominated by any single superpower.
President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, he was confident they could develop a new type of comprehensive strategic partnership.
The two leaders vowed to deepen economic ties, and witnessed the signing of a number of deals and co-operation agreements, including China's purchase of 60 Airbus planes. The two also issued a joint declaration pledging co-operation.
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding and Electricite de France signed a co-operation deal on research into nuclear reactors and nuclear power plant maintenance and upgrading.
The last major nuclear co-operation agreement between the two nations, signed 30 years ago, was for the construction of the Daya Bay nuclear power station in Shenzhen, Xinhua reported.
Both leaders stressed their desire for a multipolar world - which would dilute Washington's influence - without mentioning the United States.
"China and France are both great countries with a strong sense of independence," Xi said, adding that both nations would "actively promote … the democratisation of international relations".
He said the global order had undergone rapid changes with the rise of emerging markets, and China and France should deepen their strategic partnership, China Central Television reported.
Xi told Hollande that while China and France had different political systems, France should respect China's core interests. Hollande said France also wanted a multipolar world order.
"We want there to be a balance," he said. "We refuse a world of powers, and of superpowers. When China and France agree on a position, we can drive the world."
The two sides also agreed to hold annual high-level talks, deepen their strategic dialogue, and establish an economic and financial dialogue. Hollande wants greater access to the Chinese market. France's US$34 billion trade deficit with China last year has caused unease in Paris.
Following yesterday's talks, the two nations vowed to strengthen co-operation in the tourism and financial sectors.
Cui Hongjian, director of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said the two countries, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, could improve ties in the forum to offset the influence of the US.
"France sometimes has different ideas from the US. China may co-operate with France."
Hollande, who was welcomed by Xi and first lady Peng Liyuan, will have lunch with them today after touring the Forbidden City and meeting Premier Li Keqiang.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, Associated Press