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Xi highlights stronger cooperation, dialogue in France trip

Source: Xinhua | 2024-05-08
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Xi highlights stronger cooperation, dialogue in France trip

China-EU cooperation is "complementary and mutually beneficial" in essence, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a trilateral meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. China-EU relations enjoy strong endogenous driving force and bright prospects of development, and this relationship does not target any third party, nor should it be dependent on or dictated by any third party, Xi added.

PARIS, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday underscored the importance of bolstering cooperative ties between China and France as well as the European Union (EU), calling for dialogue and understanding amid escalating protectionism and raging conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

Xi, who is on a six-day trip to France, Serbia and Hungary through Friday, said China regards Europe as an important dimension in its major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and an important partner on its path toward Chinese modernization.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a China-France-EU trilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, May 6, 2024. [Photo by Li Xueren/Xinhua]

PARTNERS FOR COOPERATION

China-EU cooperation is "complementary and mutually beneficial" in essence, Xi said during a trilateral meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

At the meeting held at Elysee Palace, Xi said that China-EU relations enjoy strong endogenous driving force and bright prospects of development, and this relationship does not target any third party, nor should it be dependent on or dictated by any third party.

The two sides have extensive common interests and broad space for cooperation in green and digital transition, Xi said, noting it is "necessary" for them to properly address economic and trade frictions through dialogue and consultation, and accommodate each other's legitimate concerns.

"The EU is a pillar of the global economy and its members are some of China's largest trading partners," said Keith Bennett, an international relations consultant in London.

"Therefore, whether from the standpoint of bilateral economic and political relations, world peace and security, or major-country diplomacy, China-Europe relations are a key part of the global order," said Bennett.

Despite skepticism from some quarters in Europe about the benefits of trade and economic cooperation with China, empirical evidence highlights the fruitful results of China-EU economic and trade cooperation in the past decades.

Official data show that the EU stands as China's second-largest trading partner, ranking high in both imports and exports. Likewise, China is the EU's second-largest trading partner, primary source of imports, and third-largest export destination.

Meanwhile, Chinese and European enterprises continue to be upbeat about each other's markets, as statistics showed that the stock of two-way investment has exceeded 250 billion U.S. dollars.

"I believe that the economic cooperation between Europe and China is something very important. China is strong, and that is why Europe has to develop itself and be strong also," Marc-Antoine Jamet, secretary general of the LVMH group, told Xinhua on Monday before the closing ceremony of the Sixth Meeting of the China-France Business Council.

When addressing the entrepreneurs at the closing ceremony, Xi urged the EU to join China to "oppose attempts to turn business relations into political, ideological or security issues."

"We should turn China and Europe into each other's key partners for business cooperation, priority partners for cooperation in science and technology, and trustworthy partners for cooperation in industrial and supply chains," Xi said.

People experience a BYD Han electric car during a media preview of the 100th Brussels Motor Show in Brussels, Belgium, Jan. 13, 2023. [Photo by Zheng Huansong/Xinhua]

NO SUCH THING AS "CHINA'S OVERCAPACITY"

Xi's remarks came as Washington is maneuvering to rally its allies in the West to "de-risk" from China, and slow down the country's high-tech progress, alongside escalating protectionist rhetoric concerning the so-called "Chinese overcapacity" in clean energy sectors.

In the trilateral meeting with French and EU leaders, Xi rejected the claim of "China's overcapacity" from the perspective of comparative advantage and in light of global demand.

"China's new energy industry has made real progress in open competition and represents advanced production capacity. It not only increases global supply and alleviates the pressure of global inflation, but also contributes significantly to global climate response and green transition," Xi said.

Amid complaints from some Western politicians about China's electric vehicles disrupting "global prices," even prominent U.S. media outlets like Bloomberg have noted that the primary concern for advanced economies revolves around the efficiency and competitiveness of Chinese electric carmakers. This encompasses factors such as their technological expertise and modern transportation infrastructure.

As to the "overcapacity problem," studies have shown that the clean energy sector faces significant challenges in meeting global demand.

At the end of 2023, the International Renewable Energy Agency projected that in order to keep the Paris Agreement targets alive, global renewable power capacity must grow by around 1,000 GW a year through 2030.

In 2023, a year with a record-high capacity addition, the world had an increase of around 507 GW, half of what was needed to keep the 1.5-degree target within reach, according to the International Energy Agency's Renewables 2023 report.

"On clean energy, China is a partner for us," Luc Remont, chairman and CEO of the French national electricity company EDF, told Xinhua before Monday's closing ceremony of the Sixth Meeting of the China-France Business Council.

"The Chinese clean energy industry is welcomed in Europe to expand its capacities within Europe as well to serve the European market. Simultaneously, European industries are actively investing in China to bolster capacities within the country," Remont said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, hold talks at Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, May 6, 2024. [Photo by Yin Bogu/Xinhua]

GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Xi's trip is his first visit to Europe in nearly five years, and coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France.

The two sides should stay committed to the spirit that guided the establishment of their diplomatic ties, namely, independence, mutual understanding, long-term vision and mutual benefit, and enrich it with new features of the new era, Xi said during talks with Macron at Elysee Palace.

Noting that history has proven time and again that at the end of the day, conflicts can only be resolved through negotiation, Xi said when he jointly met the press with Macron that China calls on all parties to resume engagement and dialogue to build mutual trust.

As the world goes through transformation and turbulence not seen in a century, China and France should uphold independence and jointly prevent a "new Cold War" or bloc confrontation, he said.

Xi pointed out that today's world is far from being tranquil. "China and France, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, should speak out for peaceful settlement of hotspot issues and contribute to a world of lasting peace and common security. China will work with France to advocate, on the occasion of the Paris Olympic Games, a cessation of hostilities around the world during the Games," he said.

"The fact that France and China, who are both permanent members of the Security Council, can work together is very important, given the reality that the world is facing two conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza," said Pascal Boniface, founding director of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.

China and France have also long collaborated on combating climate change and environmental degradation, said Boniface, adding that he is glad to witness both sides' efforts to promote a more peaceful world and strengthen multilateralism, which is currently facing significant challenges.

The Chinese president said in a written speech upon arrival that he hopes China and France will light up their way forward with the torch of history, open a brighter future of China-France relations and make new contributions to world peace, stability and development.

"I hope this visit will help cement our long-standing friendship, enhance political trust, build strategic consensus and deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields," he said, adding that it is a great pleasure to begin his third state visit to the French Republic at the invitation of Macron.

Back in 2014 and 2019, Xi paid two visits to France, both in spring, to celebrate the 50th and 55th anniversaries of diplomatic relations together with the people of France.

(Video reporters: Li Shuting, Liu Chunhui, Li Yaguang, Sun Xinjing, Liu Yuxuan, Peng Zhuo, Wu Lu; Video editors: Zhang Yucheng, Zhao Xiaoqing, Zhu Jianhui, Zhang Yichi)

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