Macron’s China visit underscores economic tensions
In all, 15 business deals on energy, the food industry, transport and other sectors were signed during the visit, amongst other other bilateral deals
BEIJING – French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting China this week amid a push for Beijing to open its markets, despite festering trade disputes and weakened consumer spending.
Macron arrived late Monday in Shanghai, where he is to visit a sprawling import fair before travelling to Beijing for a state visit on Wednesday.
The trip comes as France and its partners are demanding China make good on its commitments to boost imports of agricultural products and manufactured goods while opening its market for financial products and other services.
France and the European Union have joined the U.S. in complaints over Chinese trade practices they consider unfair.
Meanwhile, China is grappling with slumping demand that has kept economic growth to just 6% in the latest quarter, the lowest level in almost 30 years.
During a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to France in March, China signed an agreement to buy 300 aircraft from European plane maker Airbus in a deal estimated to be worth more than US$18 billion at list prices. Macron called that an “excellent signal” that shows the strength and reliability of the relations between the two countries.
In all, 15 business deals on energy, the food industry, transport and other sectors were signed during the visit, in addition to other bilateral agreements.
Macron also arranged for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to meet with Xi during his Paris visit, underscoring France’s push for a united European front in trade talks with China.
At a daily briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the staging of the import fair demonstrated China’s willingness to open its domestic markets.
“By doing this, we can also meet our domestic needs to pursue high-quality economic development, build a new pattern of opening up and constantly improve people’s livelihood,” Geng said.
“So I would like to tell the European side that please be assured, the Chinese side will spare no effort in fulfilling its promises and commitments,” he said.