Saturday, May 18, 2024

Europe live: China’s Xi arrives in Paris with trade and Ukraine on agenda

Must read

Key events

‘One of the greatest predators of press freedom’: media freedom group protests Xi visit

As the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, begins his visit to France, Reports Without Borders has protested in Paris over the imprisonment of journalists in China.

Members of RSF (Reporters without Borders) pose with gags in front of the Arc de Triomphe to denounce the imprisonment of journalists in China, Monday, May 6. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

Lisa O’Carroll

Ahead of his visit to France, Xi Jinping wrote:

One thing that has made China’s development possible is our firm commitment to opening up. We welcome more quality French farm products and cosmetics to the Chinese market to meet the ever-growing needs of the Chinese people for a better life. We welcome investment by companies from France and other countries to China.

To this end, we have fully opened up China’s manufacturing sector, and will move faster to expand market access to telecom, medical and other services. We also have a 15-day visa-exemption policy for visitors from many countries including France, and we have taken further measures to facilitate travel and payment by foreigners in China.

While opening up itself, China also encourages Chinese companies to go global. France is advancing re-industrialization based on green innovation, whereas China is accelerating the development of new quality productive forces.

Our two countries can deepen cooperation on innovation and jointly promote green development. Some Chinese companies have set up battery plants in France. The Chinese government supports more Chinese companies in investing in France. And we hope that France will ensure that they operate in a fair and equitable business environment.

What to expect today

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Paris, his first to the EU in five years, will aim to stabilise relations between both sides amid the threat of a looming trade war, a potential arrival of Donald Trump in the White House and the ongoing war in Russia.

Vladimir Putin visits Beijing in two weeks time and Emmanuel Macron will plead with Xi to use his influence with the Kremlin.

On Sunday, Macron told the Tribune paper in Paris that he did not want “move away from China” indicating efforts to avert a trade war involving potential tariffs on sales of Chinese electric cars in the EU and retaliatory threats to taxes on EU food and drink imports which could hit France’s Cognac.

Here’s the agenda for today:

10:30: Emmanuel Macron and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen meet

11:05: Trilateral with Macron, von der Leyen and Xi

15:00: Welcome ceremony at Les Invalides

16.05: Bilateral between Macron and Xi

17.00: Chinese and French delegations meet

17.45: Press conference

18.20: Closing speeches by Macron and Xi

19.00: State dinner at the Élysée Palace

20.15: Xi, Macron arrive with their wives for photo

Rights group calls on Macron to ‘lay out consequences’ for China

Ahead of Xi’s visit to Paris, Human Rights Watch called on the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to “stand firm on rights in China.”

“President Macron should make it clear to Xi Jinping that Beijing’s crimes against humanity come with consequences for China’s relations with France,” said Maya Wang, acting China director at Human Rights Watch.

“France’s silence and inaction on human rights would only embolden the Chinese government’s sense of impunity for its abuses, further fueling repression at home and abroad,” she said.

Human Rights Watch added:

Respect for human rights has severely deteriorated under Xi Jinping’s rule. His government has committed crimes against humanity – including mass detention, forced labor, and cultural persecution – against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, adopted draconian legislation that has erased Hong Kong’s freedoms, and intensified repression of government critics across the country.

Xi Jinping arrives in France with Ukraine and EU trade row at top of agenda

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Xi Jinping has lauded China’s ties with France as a model for the international community as he arrived in Paris amid threats of a trade war over Chinese electric cars and French cognac.

On his first visit to the EU in five years, China’s president will meet his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, who will urge him to reduce trade imbalances and use his influence with Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Ahead of the visit, Macron told the French newspaper La Tribune that an update of relations was necessary “because China now has excess capacity in many areas and exports massively to Europe”.

In September 2023 the EU launched an investigation into whether to impose punitive tariffs to protect EU producers against cheaper Chinese electric vehicle (EV) imports that it says are benefiting from state subsidies.

Macron will try to talk Xi out of retaliating over the EV investigation, potentially with import duties on French cognac and agricultural goods.

The EU is also expected to raise suspicions that sanctions on exports to Russia are being circumvented by Chinese companies trading with its neighbour.

Xi said in a statement released on his arrival that ties between China and France were “a model for the international community of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries with different social systems”.

Read the full story.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Paris for a state visit to France. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Welcome to the blog

Good morning and welcome back to the Europe blog.

Today we will be delving into Xi Jinping’s visit to France and China’s relationship with Europe.

Send comments and tips to lili.bayer@theguardian.com.

Latest article