Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Emmanuel Macron begins 3-day China state visit at Silk Road gateway

Emmanuel Macron begins 3-day China state visit at Silk Road gateway

French President Emmanuel Macron went out of his way to win the heart of the Chinese leader on the first day of his state visit on Monday, offering him a horse of the elite French Republican Guard.

In a glowing interview with Chinese state media before his arrival, Macron said: "China is a country that fascinates me, like so many French people ... If they are roads, they can not be one-way", he said at the Daming imperial palace of the Tang dynasty.

Xi's contemporary interpretation of the ancient trading route aims to connect Asia and Europe via new road and rail networks, as well as new maritime routes stretching through the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Macron said Europe should join the new silk road initiative, but added a warning.

"After all, the ancient Silk Roads were never only Chinese".

The US and Europeans often accuse China of restricting access to its vast market even though they have opened up to Chinese imports.

JLR global sales up 6.5% in 2017
But we are facing tough times in key markets such as the United Kingdom where consumer confidence and diesel taxes will hit us. China was the company's most important region in 2017 with annual sales of 146,399, up 23% year-on-year.

China is France's sixth largest trading partner, and accounts for France's biggest trade deficit at about €25 billion, while France is China's fourth largest trading partner in the EU.

The visit marks Mr Macron's first Asian trip since he came to power previous year.

He plans to seek a "strategic partnership" with Beijing on issues, including terrorism.

On climate change, Macron said he would talk to Xi about "relaunching the climate battle" by preparing an increase in their engagements to combat global warming at the COP 24 talks in Poland later this year.

He also invited U.S. President Donald Trump to watch a military parade on the grandest avenue of Paris on Bastille Day last July to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War One. "You demonstrate your enormous sense of responsibility".

It is the first time France has offered one of the elite cavalry corps' horses and is also a response to China's "panda diplomacy", after Macron's wife Brigitte became the godmother of a Chinese panda lent by Beijing to a zoo near Paris. Macron is then set to deliver a speech on the future Franco-Chinese relations.

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