The French president began a three-day visit to China on Monday aimed at strengthening both countries’ commitment to tackling climate change and ensuring that China’s Silk Road project does not become a “one-way street” between China and Europe.
President Macron, accompanied by his wife Brigitte, kicked off his first official visit to China in the city of Xian, the ancient Chinese capital that marked the beginning of the Silk Road. While there, he called for a stronger alliance between France and China for « the future of the world. »
Macron also proposed « relaunching the climate battle » ahead of the next COP24 climate summit to be held in Poland at the end of 2018 and said that “China has kept its word” in its commitment to implementing CO2 reductions under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Before a group of academics, students and businessmen Macron urged Europe and China to work together on the project to build a modern Silk Road, but cautioned that it should not become a “one-way street”.
« By definition, these roads can only be shared. If they are roads, they cannot be one way. These roads can not be those of a new hegemony, which would transform those who cross them into vassals, « Macron said, referring to China’s One Belt One Road project to invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Africa and Europe.
The French president is being accompanied by some 50 French business leaders hoping to sign lucrative investment deals with the Chinese government and companies. Airbus, for one, is hoping to revive the fortunes of its flagging A380 airplane by offering to increase production at its Tianjin plant in return for more orders from the China Aircraft Leasing Company.
The visit will also be watched closely by human rights groups who have urged Macron to publicly request improvements in that area in China during his meeting with Xi Jinping. However, the office of the French president has said that issue will be addressed in private.