China and France Reinforce Ties During Official Visit of Xi Jinping in France

In the context of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, Chinese President Xi Jinping was on an official visit to France from 6 to 7 May 2024. President Xi is also scheduled to visit Serbia and Hungary afterwards.

On 6 May 2024, Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron had several working sessions. Both leaders issued a number of joint declarations relative to matters of common interest as follows:

  • Biodiversity and the Ocean
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology and Governance
  • Agribusiness Exchange and Cooperation
  • Situation in Middle-East

In addition, a trilateral meeting with EC President Ursula von der Leyen was also on the agenda. Both France and EU pushed for a more balanced trade relationship with China and urged China to intervene with Russia in order to find a solution to the Ukraine-Russia war. It is worth noting that EU is the 2nd largest trading bloc for China, behind ASEAN, while China is the second source — behind Germany — of imported goods into France.

60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between France and China
60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between France and China

In terms of economic cooperation, nearly 20 agreements were signed covering agribusiness, civil aviation, metro rail, nuclear energy, #PV, #EV and so forth. Among the flagship cooperation projects, it is worth highlighting the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant in Shenzhen and the Airbus Aircraft Assembly Facility in Tianjin.

Thus, France plans to increase its sale of wine, pork and other agricultural products to China. The French cognac was under temporary suspension and Macron hoped that the suspension would be lifted soon.

When it comes to #EV and their rechargeable batteries, France recognizes the leadership of China in this arena. Macron expressed the wish to reinforce cooperation in the #EV sector through JV in a model previously privileged by China, which is to barter market access for technology.

Anticipating unfavorable measures from the #EU, China already has plans to set up an EV factory in Hungary, which is part of the EU. Hungary has been a close ally of China and adopted a similar posture to China on the war in Ukraine.

France-China Leaders' Meeting in Paris 2024
France-China Leaders’ Meeting in Paris 2024

Since 2024 is also the year of Culture and Tourism between China and France, several agreements were signed related to this field. In particular, an accord to facilitate the customs clearing of artworks and cultural artefacts was signed in order to promote cultural exchanges.

Furthermore, Xi presented Macron with a carefully selected gift consisting of a set of literary works translated into Chinese, which were originally written by well-known French authors. In addition, a documentary on the life and times in France of Chinese painter and grand master Lin Fengmian started filming in Paris, where the artist perfected his technique at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts.

In the future, High Technology and Sustainable Development appear to remain high on the bilateral cooperation agenda. Already, China and France will cooperate on a PV project in Saudi Arabia. Both sides will only partner in development hydrogen as a clean energy source. A JV for manufacturing batteries for EV in France is also in the pipeline.