China wants to chair G20 talks, Xi Jinping tells Hollande
French minister also says Paris open to having a 'large country' presiding over such a body
China hopes to host and chair the G20 summit in 2016 to gain a bigger say in international economic affairs, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said in Hong Kong yesterday.
Fabius met Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and briefed the media on the talks in Beijing last month between President Xi Jinping and the French president, Francois Hollande.
Fabius said that as China's economic influence grew, it needed to play more prominent role in international affairs.
"When we were in Beijing, the Chinese president told us that the hope of China is to be able to preside over the G20 summit in 2016," Fabius said.
He dismissed concerns that if China chaired the summit, it would give Beijing undue influence.
"It's not a question of control," he said. "It makes sense that a very large country like China wants to lift its international influence.
"We are quite open to the fact that a large country could preside over this sort of body."
In a lunchtime speech to representatives of Hong Kong's business community, Fabius said he was optimistic about the new Chinese leadership's keenness to develop ties with France, pointing out that Hollande was the first foreign head of state to visit China after the new leadership formally took power in March.
During Hollande's visit to China last month, the French president and Xi pledged to promote a new international order, one not dominated by any single superpower.
Xi had said that "China and France are both great countries with a strong sense of independence," adding that both nations would "actively promote … the democratisation of international relations".
Hollande had said France also wanted a multipolar world order.
They had also 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.
Fabius said France and China see each other as "global strategic partners" and that the stability of the world depends on China, the United States and Europe, along with other powers such as India.
Global problems could not be resolved without China, and France had to look at Asia for economic growth, he added.
"We are more and more interdependent," he said.
Fabius also called on China to buy more French goods. France's trade deficit with China fell by €1.5 billion (HK$15.3 billion) last year to about €26 billion.
Fabius said he did not believe the "China is going to buy the world" theory, and added that China's development would create jobs in Europe and France.
Fabius also said France welcomed more Chinese investment, saying "the euro zone is in a better shape today than it was just six months ago".