by Dr. Sebastien Goulard
After calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel on November 24, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with French President on December 9, 2020. The upcoming signing of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment was a focus of discussion. The two leaders hope that negotiations will end in the coming weeks, in order to strengthen Sino-European trade. In a Covid context, increased investment between China and the European Union should help support economic recovery, especially for Europe where the pandemic is still severe.
The Covid19 pandemic was discussed at length during this phone call, the two president have given their full support to the World Health Organization, and want to work for greater coordination between countries to resolve this planetary crisis, in particular by making vaccines accessible to the entire world population.
Five years after the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, China and France reaffirmed their commitment to reduce their carbon emissions, and announced that they would strengthen their cooperation on environmental issues. China has already been promoting sustainable solutions and renewable energy projects for the Belt and Road Initiative.
The two heads of state also discussed an acceleration of digital cooperation between Europe and China.
A major point raised between the Chinese and French presidents regards aid to Africa, and in particular the decision taken by China to offer debt relief to some African countries in a post-Covid context. In April 2020, the French president called for a moratorium on Africa’s debt. The health and economic crisis due to Covid19 will weigh very heavily on African economies. France and China, -both are strong supporters of multilateralism-, have understood that Africa must not be put aside, and that global recovery can only take place by integrating all continents.
During this conversation, the two presidents also discussed the upcoming organization of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing and the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, and how they could cooperate on these two events.
Although France has not fully joined the “Belt and Road Initiative”, there is a strong desire on the part of France, Europe and China to increase their cooperation, and in particular to support multilateralism. The French president is expected to visit China soon; hopefully, new bilateral projects, that can be coordinated with the BRI, will be announced on this occasion.