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Emmanuel Macron in Beijing to Boost the Sino-French Relations

January 8, 2018


French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi upon his arrival in Beijing, Jan. 8, 2018 xinhua

Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, left, meet with Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan,

January 8, 2018

Xi meets with Macron

Editor: Zhou Xin

BEIJING, Jan. 8, 2018 (Xinhua) --

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing Monday evening.

The French president is paying a state visit to China from Monday to Wednesday. He arrived in Beijing Monday afternoon after a half-day visit to China's northwestern city Xi'an.

Pragmatism key to success of Macron's first state visit to China

Editor: Mu Xuequan

by Xinhua writer Tian Dongdong

BRUSSELS, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) --

Asked about the divide between left and right during the French presidential election last year, the then candidate Emmanuel Macron said: "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice" -- a famous maxim of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

From his reply, one can gauge Macron's familiarity with Chinese philosophy as well as his deep-rooted pragmatism, which enabled him to answer the question in a manner bridging ideological and cultural differences.

With a similar pragmatism, Macron kicked off his first state visit to China on Sunday. Twenty days ahead of the 54th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and France, the trip is set to chart the future course of and generate new impetus for the development of bilateral relations.

Highly anticipated, the trip offers a golden opportunity for both sides to further coordinate their stances on major global issues. As the red carpet will roll out amid a 21-gun salute, with even the Forbidden City opening for Macron, the trip is expected to lift China-France relations and the French leader's personal friendship with Chinese leaders to new heights.

China-France ties are currently at their peak, with Paris being Beijing's fourth largest trading partner in the European Union (EU) and Beijing ranking the first among France's Asian trading partners.

On the global level, France and China find more and more common ground on major issues such as climate change, anti-terrorism and global governance reform.

The sound development of bilateral ties in the last 54 years has laid a solid foundation for Macron's visit. Bilateral relations will be further enhanced if he remains pragmatic, which is particularly helpful amid a smear campaign against China by some Western politicians and media recently.

For one thing, pragmatism helps Macron better understand the urgency and necessity of a closer France-China cooperation on a global level.

As two permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and France play important roles in safeguarding world peace and stability. Being practical helps Macron realize the vacuum of leadership left by the "America First" policy and its resultant damage.

In addition, no country on the planet can face increasingly complicated and diversified challenges alone. The China-France relationship has become more and more strategic in the current situation. It is the two nations' shared historical responsibility to strengthen cooperation.

Furthermore, pragmatism will help Macron properly assess the full potential of France-China cooperation.

With China and France respectively being the world's second and fifth largest economies, the potential of bilateral cooperation is enormous. China's industrial production capacity and France's advanced technologies are a natural fit. If so, the pie of common interests will become even bigger. But that requires true statesmanship.

Last but not least, pragmatism could help Macron clearly see that China represents opportunity for, not a threat to France, and Europe at large.

Despite increasing mutual trust and demonstrable win-win results, certain extend of China-phobia can be felt in Brussels and other capital cities on the continent.

What is worse, some politicians exploit the fear and drum up votes by depicting China's investment as a scheme to steal EU's high technology and its Belt and Road Initiative as a conspiracy to undermine Europe's security.

In this context, it is necessary for French-Sino collaboration in building up mutual trust, respect and understanding between Europe and China. It is high time to discard bias against China.

To do that also requires practical thinking and long-term vision. The truth, in the case of the Belt and Road Initiative, is that European countries like Greece, Poland and Spain have greatly benefited from Chinese investment.

Fifty-four years ago, the French government led by Charles de Gaulle, the founding father of France's Fifth Republic, recognized the People's Republic of China. His statesmanship and pragmatism helped France win the respect and friendship of the Chinese people.

Fifty-four years later, his admirer, Macron, faces another chance to strengthen the weathered relationship. To accomplish this, he needs to practice his pragmatism, like his idol did over half a century ago.


Emmanuel Macron starts China visit in Silk Road gateway city of Xian

French President Macron embraced China's massive "Belt and Road" development project but said that trade must be a two-way street. He said Europe and China needed each other in the future, so they had to work together.

At the start of his three-day state visit to China, French President Emmanuel Macron gave voice to European concerns about Beijing's massive Silk Road revival plan while also calling on European leaders to put aside their concerns and support an effort that is aimed at developing trade.

Duisburg – New Silk Road Destination

"Our destinies are linked," he said during a keynote speech to businesspeople, academics and students at the Daming Palace — the royal residence for more than 220 years of the Tang dynasty — in the northern city of Xian, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.

But Macron also warned China about European concerns regarding China's "Belt and Road" project — a massive $1 trillion (€830 billion) development plan aimed at reviving the ancient Silk Road that once generated a flourishing trade in fabrics, spices and a plethora of other goods.

Expanding trade or influence

Current concerns center around whether China simply wants to expand trade or its geopolitical influence.

"After all, the ancient Silk Roads were never only Chinese," he told the audience. "By definition, these roads can only be shared. If they are roads, they cannot be one-way."

That also hints at Macron's plan to take up France's annual $36 billion trade deficit with China during his bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping. Macron urged leaders to put aside whatever misgivings they may have, claiming that the future will require them to work together on various issues, including climate change.

"The future needs France, Europe and China," Macron said, adding that he planned to travel to China "at least once a year" during his tenure.

Cooperating on climate change

Macron said he also planned to talk to Xi about "relaunching the climate battle" by preparing an increase in their engagements to combat global warming at the next UN climate change conference (COP 24) in Poland later this year.

He praised China, the world's leading polluter by total emissions (but not per person) — while rapping US President Donald Trump for announcing that America would withdraw from the treaty.

"China kept its word," he said. "You demonstrate your immense sense of responsibility."

Cooperation will "show the world that the French and Chinese are capable of making our planet great and beautiful again," he said in Chinese.

Macron and his wife Brigitte began their official three-day visit to China in Xian, which was once the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.

The French delegation visited the city's famous terracotta warriors, the 8,000-man clay army, crafted around 250 BC for the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihuang.

China export boom

After Xian, Macron will travel to Beijing with his delegation, which is made up of some 60 business executives and representatives from leading French companies, including aircraft manufacturer Airbus and supermarket chain Auchan.

Both parties are expected to sign numerous economic agreements on the third day, particularly in the fields of aviation and nuclear energy.

bik,dm/msh (AFP, Reuters,dpa)


Macron brings gift of horse called Vesuvius on visit to China

The Guardian, Mon 8 Jan ‘18

French president is praised by Chinese experts for present of eight-year-old gelding, a ‘symbol of French excellence’

Macron brings gift of horse called Vesuvius on visit to China

French president is praised by Chinese experts for present of eight-year-old gelding, a ‘symbol of French excellence’

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has fired the starting pistol on a three-day visit to China by giving his host, Xi Jinping, a horse called Vesuvius.

The eight-year-old gelding recruited from France’s presidential cavalry corps represented “an unprecedented diplomatic gesture”, Reuters quoted the French presidency as saying.

“It mattered a lot for the president, even if it was very complicated to import a horse for sanitary reasons,” one official said. “It’s a symbol of French excellence.”

Quick guideTen more unusual diplomatic gifts

1. French president Jean Raymond Pompidou to the Queen - six-foot long wine-cooler in the shape of a grasshopper with rotating wings to become a drinks table - 1972, during state visit to France.

2. Chinese government to President Richard Nixon - two giant pandas - 1972, following US president’s visit to China

3. Fiji Chiefs to the Queen - a whale’s tooth (the most prized possession of Fiji rulers) - 1977. Given to apologise for becoming a republic. 

4. Saddam Hussein to Donald Rumsfeld – a three-minute video appearing to show Syrian biting the heads off snakes and stabbing puppies, set to the applause of Hafez al-Assad – US visit to Iraq in 1983.

5. Jordan’s King Abdullah to George Bush - a small arsenal of guns, and six jars of fertiliser - 2004. The Sultan of Brunei gave Bush a ’Worst Case Survival Handbook’ in the same year.

6. Barack Obama to Gordon Brown - 25 of his favourite movies on DVD - 2009. This was in return for £10,000-worth of gifts given to Obama by Brown, including two biographies of Winston Churchill and a pen and holder made from the wood of an anti-slavery ship. The DVD didn’t work in the UK.

7. Barack Obama to the Queen - an iPod - G20 summit 2009. It was the official gift from the 44th president and his wife. The Queen was ‘delighted’.

8. The People of the South Pacific Tanna Island to Prince Philip - a penis sheath made of grass - 2010. Prince Philip did not visit the Island.

9. Polish prime minister Donald Tusk to President Obama - Polish game ‘The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings’ - 2011. The game is said to be a national symbol of pride.

10. Australian Northern Territory government to Obama - crocodile insurance - 2011. Insured for $A50,000.

Macron’s tour of Xi’an and Beijing is designed to boost ties between the two nations as Paris emerges as a key Chinese partner in Europe following Britain’s decision to abandon the European Union.

In a glowing interview with Chinese state media before his arrival, Macron said: “China is a country that fascinates me, like so many French people … [it is] the oldest living civilisation – a ‘state older than history’, as General de Gaulle once said.”

Chinese experts praised Macron’s decision to give the Middle Kingdom his horse, a move apparently inspired by the Chinese tradition of “panda diplomacy”, when Beijing bestows the black-and-white Sichuan natives upon its friends.

“He really respects Chinese history,” enthused Ding Yifan, a France expert from the China Development Research Centre, a state-backed thinktank.

Ding said he saw the gift as an allusion to the Qianlima or “thousand-mile horse”, a mythical winged creature famed for its ability to travel great distances. By giving Xi such a present, Macron was signalling his desire for a long-lasting relationship with Beijing.

The four-legged gift was not Macron’s only goodwill gesture to Xi, who was recently anointed as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. By beginning his tour of China in Xi’an, the ancient Silk Road hub, Macron was also offering symbolic backing to Xi’s signature foreign policy campaign, the $900bn Belt and Road initiative.

Speaking on Monday, Macron insisted the sprawling Chinese development push, which some fear is simply a pretext to draw less developed nations into Beijing’s economic orbit, could not just benefit Beijing: “The new roads cannot only go one way.”

The equine offering places French diplomacy furlongs ahead of British counterparts, who have lost favour in Beijing following Brexit. When David Cameron travelled to China in 2013 he handed Xi a signed England football shirt. When the Communist party leader came to London in 2015 the Queen gave him a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Theresa May has not yet had the chance to pay tribute, having repeatedly postponed a visit to China that was originally expected last summer. May is now expected to visit Beijing in late January.

Additional reporting Wang Xueying


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