China’s president meets European leaders to discuss trade policy

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Leaders of China, France, Germany and the European Commission have agreed to seek fairer global trade rules and work together to face the world’s economic and security challenges in an implicit response to the United States’ protectionist policies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, on a state visit to France, met in Paris on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Discussions at the Elysee presidential palace focused on global challenges and relations between China and Europe.

European countries seek to boost relations with China while also putting pressure over its business practices amid trade tensions between the United States and both China and the European Union.

France Europe China
French President Emmanuel Macron, centre, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wait for the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping (Francois Mori/PA)

Mr Macron said they discussed the “friendship” as well as “existing rivalries” between the EU and China and agreed to seek a “trust-based partnership”.

“Our common will is to avoid … new trade conflicts and isolationist policies”, he said in a joint statement following the meeting.

Mr Xi said reformed world governance rules should address global challenges like climate change, cybersecurity issues and migrant crisis.

“Competition and international frictions keep growing” in the world, he said.

China wants to play a bigger role in international organisations like the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund that were created under a Western-based model.

The leaders are preparing for a crucial EU-China summit on April 9.

The EU is China’s biggest trade partner and wants to solidify that relationship.

France Europe China
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping(Thibault Camus/AP)

Ms Merkel called for creating “a climate of mutual trust so that everyone is aware of the other one’s interests”.

“With multilateralism it’s possible to get a win-win approach”, she said.

Tuesday’s meeting was a key moment in Mr Xi’s European tour to Italy, Monaco and France.

The Chinese leader’s visit has involved huge business contracts, including one of the biggest deals ever for European plane maker Airbus.

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