France’s Macron to host Xi, Merkel and Junker at March 26 meeting

March 21, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Emmanuel Macron will host Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as the leaders of Germany and the European Union’s executive arm at a March 26 meeting to discuss multilateral relations between Europe and China, a French presidency official said.

The talks will focus on trade, climate and China-European relations, the official said. France wants a more coordinated EU approach to China, rather than member countries focusing on bilateral relations.

The meeting comes at a time when the EU is weighing a more defensive strategy on China, spurred by China’s slowness to open up its economy, Chinese takeovers in critical sectors and a feeling in European capitals that Beijing has not stood up for free trade.

“This meeting is a first step,” the Elysee official said, adding that the meeting would help lay the groundwork for concrete results at an EU-China summit on April 9.

Macron, arriving at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, spoke of a “European awakening” that China is seeking to produce sophisticated products that will compete with those made in Europe.

“Since the beginning of my mandate I’ve been calling for a real awareness and for the defense of European sovereignty,” Macron told reporters.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; editing by John Irish)

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