France's Macron Visits China to Forge Strategic Partnership

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron are given a tour during a visit to the Great Mosque of Xian in the northern Chinese city of Xian

France's Macron Visits China to Forge Strategic Partnership

XIAN, CHINA French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday urged Europe to take part in China's Silk Road revival plan, despite some European misgivings about the massive project, as he began a state visit.

"After all, the ancient Silk Roads were never only Chinese", he told the audience.

"They can not be the roads of a new hegemony that will put the countries that they traverse in a vassal state", he said. Speaking for an hour and fifteen minutes, Macron called for a union between France and China in the name of the "future of the world", and promised to visit the Asian country "at least once a year" to bring bilateral relations "into a new era".

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Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $124 billion for the New Silk Road project at a summit in May, but it has been received with suspicion in Western capitals as more of an intention to assert Chinese influence than Beijing's desire to spread prosperity. "By definition, these roads can only be shared". But Macron will show a photo of it to Xi when they meet in Beijing.

Macron's first official visit to Asia marks a new stage in his diplomacy, which has so far been concentrated on Europe and Africa.

In a French version of panda diplomacy, Macron has brought Xi a gift: a retired Republican Guard horse that is now in quarantine in China.

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Cooperation will "show the world that the French and Chinese are capable of making our planet great and attractive again", he said in Chinese.

Chinese experts praised Macron's decision to give the Middle Kingdom his horse, a move apparently inspired by the Chinese tradition of "panda diplomacy", when Beijing bestows the black-and-white Sichuan natives upon its friends.

Macron then visited the Terracotta Warriors Museum with his wife Brigitte and later he delivered a speech on French-Chinese relations in the Daming Palace National Monument Park.

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