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Emmanuel Macron

Three things to watch out for during Emmanuel Macron’s trip to China

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 3:32pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 3:41pm

The French President Emmanuel Macron is paying a three-day state visit to China.

He arrived in Xian in Shaanxi province on Monday and will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping the following day.

Here are the three main areas to look out for during Macron’s trip:

TRADE:

Trade and economic cooperation are expected to be the focus of the French president’s first trip to China while in office.

Macron will seek ways to ease China’s large trade deficit with France’s top trading partner in Asia.

The French authorities also want China to lower imports barriers for agricultural products, such as beef and wine.

Macron will also seek more access to China’s markets and fair and equal investment policies for firms operating in both countries.

A Franco-Chinese investment fund worth more than one billion euros (US$1.2 billion) will be launched during Macron’s trip.

China also wants more French involvement in its overseas projects, such as their joint venture at the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Britain.

CLIMATE CHANGE:

Climate change is one of the key elements in Macron’s foreign policy and diplomacy, with China a key supporter of the Paris Accord to tackle global warming.

After the United States announced that it would withdraw from the pact, the two countries said they would form a “joint leadership” on global efforts to combat climate change.

US President Donald Trump has caused concern among some nations over his lack of support for global institutions and treaties as he pursues more protectionist policies under his “America First” agenda. China and France are permanent members of the UN Security Council and may reaffirm their commitment to globalisation and international cooperation.

MUTUAL SUPPORT ON THE GLOBAL STAGE:

Macron has made clear his vision for a much more integrated euro zone after Britain voted to leave the European Union. As Angela Merkel’s leadership in Europe has been weakened by her failures to form a coalition in Germany, France may step forward to take a much more prominent role. Macron will be hoping for a constructive and supportive relationship with China as France attempts to assert itself on the global stage.

Meanwhile, many Western countries are wary of China’s Belt and Road initiative to increase Chinese trade and influence in Asia, Europe and beyond. Macron, however, has expressed some interest in the initiative and Beijing hopes he might become one of the pioneering partners among Western nations, just as former French president Charles de Gaulle blazed a trail by establishing diplomatic relations with communist China in 1964.