Macron's China visit points to Beijing's shifting relationship with Europe

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As much as Macron is wooing China, Beijing is also reaching out to Europe through its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, with both sides agreeing to take steps towards improving the Sino-French relationship, reports Chinese news outlet China News.

Xi pledged $124 billion for the plan at a summit in May but it has faced suspicion in Western capitals that it is intended more to assert Chinese influence than Beijing's professed desire to spread prosperity.

European leaders increasingly are pressing China, the most closed major economy, for such reciprocity in response to frustration among labour unions and business groups about mounting Chinese competition. "We've never been that close to signing a commercial deal", the official said.

It is the first state visit by a European leader since China's Communist Party congress in October, which reinforced Xi's grip on power as he was formally handed a second term and his name was enshrined in the party's constitution.

Macron added that France and China also had "ambitions" for sales of Airbus's longer-range A350 and its large but hard-to-sell A380 "in the weeks and months to come".

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Last year, the aircraft designer secured orders worth $22bn during Xi's Berlin visit in July.

"Let's open up both instead", Macron said.Macron is hoping to seal deals, notably in the nuclear, aerospace and agrifood sectors. The planes will be delivered in 2019 and 2020. Safran SA signed a $2.9-billion deal to provide engines to Spring Airlines, according to a statement from the French president's office.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Jean-Yves Le Gall, left, president of the Centre National d'Etudes Spatialesp receive a scale model of the CFOSAT in Beijing.

Its president, Dominique Langlois, is part of the delegation of about 50 business leaders who joined Macron for his trip. "He is nine years old and first came to the calvary regiment at the age of three", said a French Republican Guard.

"Our beef now has no access (to China) for sanitary reasons. It's a symbol of French excellence", an Elysee official said.

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