Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron were to hold talks in Paris on Monday with the host leader seeking to forge a united European front in the face of Beijing’s inroads on the continent.
Xi’s visit marks 55 years since French leader Charles de Gaulle established diplomatic relations with Beijing.
A series of cooperation deals on nuclear power, aerospace and clean energy initiatives, some involving lucrative contracts, are expected to be signed.
On Tuesday, Macron and Xi will be joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to explore “points of convergence” ahead of an EU-China summit in Brussels next month.
In an interview with the Nice-Matin newspaper after hosting Xi at a dinner on the French Riveria, Macron said the joint talks “would allow us to establish a common definition for a new international order.”
Security was tight as Macron and his wife Brigitte hosted Xi and his singer wife Peng Liyuan for a private dinner at the resort village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer near Nice.
Macron offered Xi a French translation of Confucius dating from the 17th century, while Xi gave his host a precious vase depicting images of the two countries including a panda and a rooster.
Before the dinner Xi travelled to the nearby principality of Monaco, where he was received by Prince Albert II.
Xi had arrived from Italy, whose government became the first G7 state to sign up to his landmark new “Silk Road” infrastructure project, a massive undertaking to join Asia to Europe.
Italy’s move came despite misgivings over the huge venture by other European nations wary of China’s growing influence. Xi insisted it will be a two-way street of investment and trade.
EU Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger in a newspaper interview