China hopes France can “stabilize the tone” of EU-China relations, vice-premier He Lifeng told his French counterpart in Beijing on Saturday, as European leaders debate how balance “de-risking” and cooperating with the world’s second-largest economy.
He also told French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire that China is willing to deepen cooperation with France in traditional areas such as finance as well as in science and technological innovation, as the two sides meet for their ninth Economic and Financial Dialogue.
“It is hoped that France will stabilize the tone of friendly cooperation between China and the EU,” He said during opening remarks to an afternoon of discussions at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guest house, adding that China believes its bilateral ties with France “have a good foundation.”
China is France’s third-largest trade partner behind the European Union and the United States, but French companies are becoming increasingly concerned they could get caught in the crossfire of rising economic rivalry between the world’s two economic superpowers.
European Union governments last month also approved an 11th tranche of sanctions against Russia that could hit Chinese companies considered to be circumventing measures that were already in place.
Le Maire said the three challenges the two countries should work together on are the green transition, reorganization of value chains, and technological revolution, while also raising market access issues for French companies in the banking, nuclear, cosmetics and agricultural industries.
“It is essential to think about the expansion and deepening of economic and financial cooperation between France and China,” La Maire said. “We would like to welcome major new investments from China to French territory.”
China’s He told his guests the meeting was a “positive signal that China and France will work together to address challenges and inject stability into an uncertain world,” which has “accelerated into a new situation of instability and uncertainty” not seen in a 100 years.