Macron and Von der Leyen urge Xi to respect fair trade rules

French president Emmanuel Macron and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have on Monday called for "fair" trade relations between China and Europe, following a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Paris. At the same time, they stressed the importance of cooperation with Beijing.

"The future of our continent will also depend on our ability to continue building relations with China in a balanced way," Macron said before the start of the meeting with Xi, who had arrived in Paris on Sunday. France, which is celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations with China, is the first stop on the Chinese president’s first European tour since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Von der Leyen, who was invited by Macron to attend part of the consultations, denounced China's uneven market access and overcapacity. "Because of its weak domestic demand, China now produces more than it sells with massive subsidies," she argued. "Europe cannot accept such market-distorting practices, which lead to a de-industrialisation of Europe."

Macron and Von der Leyen both stressed that Europe should continue the dialogue with Beijing on international issues. They hope that China will want to use its influence on Russia to end the war in Ukraine. "China and the European Union both have an interest in peace and security," Von der Leyen stated, praising Xi for his "important role in de-escalating Russia's irresponsible nuclear threats".

For his part, Xi stated at the start of the conversation that Europe and China should remain "partners" despite the disputes, continue their dialogue and cooperation, and strengthen the "strategic coordination". He added that this is important "to promote the regular and healthy development of European-Chinese relations and make contributions to peace and development in the world". In a later statement, Xi denied that China's overcapacity is problematic.

After his visit to France, the Chinese president will travel on to Serbia and Hungary.

French president Emmanuel Macron, Chinese president Xi Jinping and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen © BELGA PHOTO Ludovic MARIN / AFP

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