rench President Emmanuel Macron paid his first official visit to China from January 8 to 10, turning a new page in the Sino-French relationship.
Macron’s first stop was Xi’an, and capital of Shaanxi Province, the ancient capital of 13 Chinese dynasties and one end of the Silk Road. During his stay in Xi’an, Macron visited historic sites like the First Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors and Daming Palace, the imperial palace complex of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), where he spoke of his support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative and said he wishes to strengthen cooperation with China in many fields.
In Beijing, Macron delivered another speech, this time to high-profile French and Chinese entrepreneurs, including Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Liu Qiangdong, founder of JD.com – Alibaba’s biggest rival. Also present were Pan Shiyi, president of SOHO, the biggest real estate developer in Beijing and Dai Wei, founder and CEO of the bike-sharing giant ofo.
Macron reiterated his support for the Belt and Road Initiative and said France intends to be the leader of the EU and play a key role in economics, environment protection and social issues. “We will give a clear vision to the future of the EU – to build a more united, more democratic and larger EU,” he said, “We wish to make the EU strong enough to compete with China and the US,” he added.
When Macron wrote his autobiography Revolution (a Chinese language version of which will be released in China on January 8) he asked the world to abandon its prejudice against China, saying that China will give a significant part of the world more opportunities.
The fruits of Macron’s trip have proved his words. Witnessed by the French President, China and France signed a number of cooperative agreements on civilian nuclear energy, aerospace exploration, artificial intelligence and e-commerce. Macron said he hoped Chinese enterprises will invest more in his country to narrow France’s trade deficit with China. France is China’s fourth-largest source of foreign investment in Europe.
Chinese analysts view Macron’s visit as a crucial turning point in the Sino-French relationship. With populism on the rise around Europe, Macron’s support for globalization and free trade, they say, is of great significance for promoting China’s Belt and Road Initiative worldwide and for enhancing the Sino-EU relationship.