Chinese President Xi Jinping has been treated to a sumptuous dinner near Nice and an official welcome by his French counterpart at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris not to mention a 17th-century French translation of Confucius.
But Xi's three-day visit to France, which began Sunday, promises to be a much bigger challenge than his past two stopovers. The Chinese leader coasted on the first leg of his European tour, marked by getting Italy on board his "Belt and Road" project, and a friendly welcome in the tiny Riviera principality of Monaco, which agreed to let Chinese technology company Huawei develop its controversial 5G telecommunications network.
His third leg will test both Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron, who has cast himself as one of Europe's strongest champions. For Xi, analysts say, the goal is not just to broaden Chinese economic ties, but also political clout in Europe in the face of other major global competitors. For Macron and his allies, it means coaxing a fractured bloc to speak in a single voice when it comes to doing business with China.
"It's in the Chinese interest that Europe is not divided, that we remain a leading partner," Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper wrote, summing up what it described as Macron's thinking about China's relations with the European Union, its biggest trading partner.
Monday's agenda included inking energy, food and transport deals, followed by a state dinner for Xi hosted by Macron at the Elysee presidency. Besides trade, the two leaders were also expected discuss climate change, with Macron reportedly seeking greater Chinese cooperation to counter Trump administration skepticism.
Source : VOA