China-EU relations: Xi tells Macron he hopes Europe can be positive about Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday that he hopes Europe will be positive in its approach to China, while the two leaders agreed to cooperate on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and exploring space.
According to a Xinhua report, Xi said in a telephone conversation that China was committed to the stable development of China-Europe relations “no matter how the international situation changes”.
“We hope Europe can implement positive China policies,” he said.
Both leaders said they shared the hope that a China-EU investment agreement could be finalised as soon as possible, and agreed to actively participate in the World Health Organization-led Covax project, which seeks to ensure the fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world.
They also reiterated their commitment to multilateralism, and working together on lunar and Martian exploration projects, satellite development, biomedicine and biological breeding, and tackling climate change.
The two countries would also pursue more people-to-people exchanges, and cooperate during both the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 and the Paris Summer Games in 2024, the report said.
Xi’s chat with Macron came amid calls in the United States for a transatlantic alliance with Europe to counter China’s push for greater influence on the world stage.
A recent report by Senator Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho, said the US should work with the European Union to promote private sector investment in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in infrastructure projects, and ensure maritime security in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
There have also been reports that the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is preparing a detailed proposal to the US to form a new global alliance to meet the strategic challenges posed by China.
Zhou Yongsheng, an international relations professor at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said it was in China’s interests to seek greater engagement with EU countries.
“France is one of the core engines of the EU. The conversation reflects the importance China attaches to its cooperation with both France and the EU,” he said.
“Also, France is a hi-tech country, so Sino-French space cooperation would be mutually beneficial.”
Jia Qingguo, a former dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, agreed it was important for France and China to cooperate on space exploration.
“Space governance is an integral part of global governance,” he said. “Major powers reached a consensus in the past to prevent an arms race in space, and with the increasing instability and uncertainty in the world, it is necessary to re-emphasise that consensus.”
Jia said also that after years of US President Donald Trump promoting economic and technological decoupling, sealing a China-EU investment deal was of great significance.
“Expanding trade and investment is in the global interest. Decoupling does not help at all,” he said.