China’s president meets European leaders on deal-filled trip

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said competition between the European Union and China must not lead to a breakdown in world trade systems or political isolationism, as his Chinese counterpart promised to work side-by-side with Europe.

They will meet again in an enlarged format with German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also in France on Tuesday.

The consensus was reached during talks between Xi and Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris. "That's what we are doing on strategic investments", Macron said in a joint address with Xi.

"Knowing the past can help people judge today and move on better", he said.

Gunther Oettinger, Germany's EU commissioner, also voiced concern the same day that, soon, "in Italy and other European countries, infrastructure of strategic importance like power networks, rapid rail lines or harbours [will] no longer be in European, but in Chinese hands".

"China is willing to work with France to inherit the past and create the future, enable our close and enduring comprehensive strategic partnership to continue leading the way, and make more historic contributions to building an open, inclusive, clean and lovely world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity", Xi said. Airbus's shares rose more than 2% on the news.

"In politics, we should not only build a strong "dam" of mutual trust, but also a "lighthouse" of ideal", he said. Xi, unlike Trump, has remained a supporter of multilateral action against climate change and the agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Following their meeting on Monday, Mr Macron said that he hoped to build a "new global governance" with China, as he revealed his desire to "build a strong Europe".

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A Paris-based Asian diplomat said: "Macron is not happy to see China win so many prizes in Rome, so he has invented a freakish European format by inviting Merkel and Juncker as a counterbalance to show that he is the driving force behind European integration".

Noting that China has newly approved its foreign investment law, Xi pledged that the country will continue to greatly relax market access, optimize business environment, strengthen intellectual property rights protection, and create a new pattern of high-level opening-up.

The bulk of the new deals, worth €30bn, were in the form of 300 airplanes to be sold by European firm Airbus to China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, while the rest covered energy, transport, and food.

On people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Xi called for enhancing both intergovernmental cooperation and non-governmental contacts.

France highly values China's important leading role in multilateral agendas such as climate change and peacekeeping, Macron stressed, adding there are many common ideas in worldwide affairs between France and China.

Xi responded that a prosperous European Union was in keeping with China's vision for a multipolar world and said the two were advancing together despite suspicions.

"We are honoured to support the growth of China's civil aviation with our leading aircraft families - single-aisle and widebodies", said Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO.

A full China-EU summit will take place in Brussels on 9 April. Others see it as a push by China to dominate global affairs.

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