Europeans and Chinese show a united front to save multilateralism

 France, Germany and the European Commission on Tuesday asked for a more balanced partnership between China and Europe based on "trust" and "reciprocity" and called for "renewed" pluralism in the absence of the United States.

At an unprecedented mini-summit, French President Emmanuel Macaron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned of "trade tensions" in the hostile US president's climate, especially against Chinese imports.

"Tensions on the international scene are increasing, and more and more tests of geopolitical power are taking place," Xi said at the end of a meeting in the Elysee.

During his meeting with the Chinese president on Tuesday, Macaron asked Beijing to "respect the unity of the European Union" which was damaged by Beijing's investment policy.

For his part, McCron said at the end of the meeting, "Cooperation is more beneficial than confrontation and we will benefit more from openness than closure."

This unprecedented meeting organized by the Elysee Palace aims to show a common front for the Europeans, sometimes divided about the position to be taken towards China, which is expanding more and more.

If some European countries, especially the Balkans, have accepted China's investment in the framework of its broad program to build the new Silk Road infrastructure, other countries have expressed concern over China's gains in Europe, while Beijing is not ensuring fair treatment of foreign investment on its territory.

"We have differences, but we respect China," McCron said. "We also expect our senior partners, of course, to respect the unity of the EU as well as the values ​​it holds."

Merkel said the new Silk Road was "a very important project" and "we Europeans want to play a role," but "that has to be reciprocal and we find it difficult."

"I would like European companies to find the same degree of openness as Chinese institutions in Europe," he said.

"Europe and China are coming together," he said, even though they sometimes "compete", calling the relationship between global economic giants not to be "suspicious."

"Of course there are points of disagreement and competition, but they are positive competition ... We are moving forward, we must not allow suspicion to always look back," he said.

The French and Chinese presidents reaffirmed their views on the creation of a "renewed multilateralism" to counter US President Donald Trump's stance on climate variability, the "modernization" of the World Trade Organization and the rule of global trade-offs.

Europe is in a dilemma between US President Donald Trump's approach of direct bilateral negotiations and China's expansionist drive through the "New Silk Road" - Beijing's massive plan to deploy maritime and land infrastructure linking Asia, Europe and Africa.

China recently joined Italy, one of the founding nations of the European Union, in its initiative.

"The world is undergoing unprecedented transformations: China, France and Europe, all at a crucial moment of their development," Xi Jinping said on the first day of his official visit to France, which arrived from Italy and Monaco.

As France seeks to put climate change at the heart of the process of promoting multilateralism, Xi said, "I came to France determined to work for our comprehensive strategic partnership to be at the forefront of our time."

Since Donald Trump's arrival at the White House, Xi Jinping has presented himself as a traditional player at the heart of the international community. He even managed to win the applause of the world's liberal economic elite at the Davos Forum in 2016.

But it is a source of concern and divisions in Europe, where China has invested at least 145 billion euros since 2010, and concerns are expressed about its massive infrastructure project, its bilateral negotiating approach with each country and its investment in strategic assets.

"Europe desperately needs a strategy for China, a strategy worthy of that name," said European Commissioner Gunther Oettinger on Sunday. "Concerned that important strategic infrastructure such as power grids, high-speed rail lines or harbors are no longer in European hands but Chinese."

"If some countries believe they can make lucrative deals with the Chinese, they will be surprised when they realize they have become dependent countries," warned German Foreign Minister Haikou Mas.

China, on the contrary, insists that its investments in European countries support the unity of the bloc. "China will always support the integration and growth of Europe," Shi said.

Cooperation with China will help it restore economic vitality and make its voice heard on issues in the region, "the English-language Global Times said Sunday.


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