Chinese leader Xi in France to sign multibillion deals

Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2019 By Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron walk on the terrace of the Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, southern France, Sunday, March, 24, 2019. Chinese President Xi Jinping is coming to Monaco and France amid mixed feelings in Europe about China's growing global influence. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping was greeted with full honors Monday during a state visit to France in which he is expected to sign multibillion-dollar deals on energy, the food industry, transport and other sectors as well as a bilateral statement on climate change.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Xi and his wife, Peng Liuan, at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris. The French National Guard played the country's anthems. Both leaders laid a wreath at the Unknown Soldier from World War I whose tomb is under the monument.

They then headed to the Elysee presidential palace for a meeting followed by a signature ceremony.

Later, the Chinese president was to be honored with a state dinner at the Elysee, with prestigious guests including French actor Alain Delon, Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse and French-Chinese painter Yan Pei-Ming.

A top official at the French presidency said about 30 deals were expected to be signed in a ceremony at the Elysee, half of them business contracts —for a global amount reaching multibillion dollars— and others bilateral agreements.

China last year opened its market for French beef products following Macron's state visit in the country in January 2018. France now expects similar opening for its poultry industry, the official said. Other expected deals involve French companies specialized in transports, renewable energy and city infrastructures.

The official was speaking anonymously in accordance with the presidency's practices ahead of the formal signature of the deals.

Cultural announcements were also expected, including a branch opening for the Paris modern art museum, the Pompidou Center, in Shanghai this fall.

France also seeks China's cooperation on climate diplomacy in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's skepticism about climate change. The presidency's top official said China was about to make substantial commitments, especially ones favoring its green investments abroad.

The Chinese leader, who previously visited Italy and Monaco to sign deals, arrived in France on Sunday evening where he had a private dinner with Macron in the resort town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera.

Xi will also meet in Paris on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Europe wants to increase its trade with China but on European terms, especially amid U.S.-China trade tensions.

The European Union is China's biggest trading partner but many in Europe worry about unfair competition from Chinese companies and about China's global clout.

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