French president endorses China's Silk Road revival project

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 03:40 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 807 times

French President Emmanuel Macron has heartily approved China’s plan to revive the ancient Silk Road and urged other European states to contribute to the materialization of the project.


"Our destinies are linked," he said in a keynote speech on the future of the Sino-French relations during a visit to the northern city of Xian, the starting point of the project, on Monday.

"The future needs France, Europe and China," Macron said, promising that he would travel to China "at least once a year."

Macron began his three-day visit in Xian as a gesture to Chinese President Xi Jinping's huge New Silk Road project aimed at connecting Asia and Europe by road, rail and sea.

The $1 trillion infrastructure program is billed as a modern revival of the ancient road that once carried fabrics, spices and a wealth of other goods in both directions.

Known in China as "One Belt, One Road," the plan will see gleaming new road and rail networks built through Central Asia and beyond, and new maritime routes stretching through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

The project has elicited both interest and anxiety, with some in Europe seeing it as Chinese expansionism.

Macron, however, supports the project. "It represents a real opportunity to create bridges, through exchange between countries and civilizations, just as the ancient silk routes once did," he told a Chinese website.

"I think it's very important that Europe and China strengthen their collaboration on the initiative. France is ready to play a leading role in this," he added.

But Macron warned that the project should be a two-way road carried out "within the framework of a balanced partnership" -- a reference to concerns about China's trade surpluses. France has a $36 billion trade deficit with China.

On climate change, Macron said he would talk to Xi about "relaunching the climate battle" by preparing an increase in their engagements to combat global warming at the COP 24 talks in Poland later this year.

He praised China for committing to the Paris Accord after US President Donald Trump said America would pull out of the pact.

"China kept its word," he said. "You demonstrate your immense sense of responsibility."

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

After Xian, Macron headed to Beijing along with his delegation of business executives and representatives of institutions.