Chinese President Xi Jinping is flanked by his wife Peng Liyuan (R), French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron (L), during a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday. Photo: AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping and French leader Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for increased cooperation between the European Union and China. Speaking at the Elysee Palace following talks with Xi at a time of growing concern over Beijing’s massive investments on the continent, Macron called for a “strong Europe-China partnership,” adding that it must be based on “strong multilateralism” and “fair and balanced” trade.

China’s leader emphasized that “a united and prosperous Europe fits in with our vision of a multipolar world.”

In a statement to the media, Xi added, “China will always back European integration and its development.”

The statements followed the inking of deals on nuclear power, cultural exchanges, clean energy, and a huge contract which will see China buy 290 Airbus A320s and 10 A350 airliners from Europe’s Airbus conglomerate.

The order, originally for 184 A320s for 13 Chinese airlines, was first announced during Macron’s state visit to China in January 2018.

All the agreements, including one on French exports to China of frozen chicken, amount to a total of some $40 billion.

Monday’s talks come a day ahead of another meeting in Paris, this time between Macron, Xi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to explore “points of convergence” between the two trading giants.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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