French president Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron has been enjoying a successful official visit to China, where until now he has been not well known.
While the Chinese public seems fascinated by the president’s marriage to Brigitte, 24 years his senior, the Chinese leadership has indicated that it views France as an increasingly important strategic partner in Europe, especially in the context of Brexit and the waning of British influence on the continent.
Macron is not only one making himself available for the role, he has brought with him a number of leading French companies to put their signatures to strategic sales and future partnerships. He arrived in China with the offer of an industrial partnership with Airbus, if the Chinese place orders for the A380, the world’s biggest passenger jet that faces trouble if more orders fail to materialise.
However, the French leader is also keen to impress on the Chinese that initiatives, such as the giant Belt and Road project, should not end up in a cul-de-sac and that bilateral relations depend on a two-way street. He said in Xia’an on Monday, January 8, at the start of his visit: “New roads cannot go in one direction.”
Meanwhile, Macron has praised China’s commitment to the Paris climate change accord, and in doing so has underscored the common values of the two nations in the fight against global warming, in sharp contrast with the stance of US President Donald Trump.