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Macron's China visit points to Beijing's shifting relationship with Europe

Macron's China visit points to Beijing's shifting relationship with Europe

Beyond beef, French officials said talks were continuing about China's ban on French poultry, imposed in 2015 after an outbreak of bird flu.

"I hope to strengthen our mutual trust during this visit and to use the five years of my term in office to promote Franco-Chinese relations and European-Chinese relations", said Macron, standing with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, ahead of a meeting at a government guesthouse.

Macron and Xi also saw eye-to-eye on the battle against climate change, with both voicing their commitment to the Paris accord in the face of US President Donald Trump's pledge to withdraw from the pact. In fact, in Southeast Asia and Africa, China already has developed more advanced tools of influence than those exposed in Australia and New Zealand-or even the United States.

Macron forged the slogan - an echo of USA president Donald Trump's "make America great again" - past year to show his continued support for the Paris Agreement in the face of Trump's decision to withdraw the US.

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Airbus chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier, who led the company's delegation, had earlier focused on the industrial relationship with China, saying on Tuesday that A320 build rates at a plant in Tianjin, east of Beijing, would accelerate to six aircraft a month by 2020 from four now.

Ninety percent of China's beef imports come now from Brazil, Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand. RSF nonetheless reminds all concerned that China is ranked very near the bottom of the RSF World Press Freedom Index - 176th out of 180 countries. The aim is to complete that agreement this spring, Le Maire said. The aviation company Airbus was expected to sign a new multibillion-euro deal with China, while the Chinese online retailer JD.com announced plans to sell French goods worth €2 billion to Chinese consumers over the next two years.

Macron began his visit on Monday bent on pursuing deals that would help France reduce its $36 billion (€30 billion) trade deficit with China.

During his campaign, the French leader took a "slightly negative" approach to China by pushing for a European-level investment protection agency, but that development seems to have lost ground, Garcia-Herrero said.


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