EU wants to play active part in BRI, says MerkeI

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands ahead of a bilateral meeting at the Hotel de Marigny residence in Paris, France on March 26, 2019.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands ahead of a bilateral meeting at the Hotel de Marigny residence in Paris, France on March 26, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Chinese President Xi Jinping that Europe wants to play an active part in China's Belt and Road initiative, but that it must lead to more trade reciprocity.

Dr Merkel was in France yesterday, along with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he wanted to build a fairer, more balanced multilateral trade framework with China.

Referring to China's vast "New Silk Road" infrastructure project connecting the country with Europe, which has sparked unease in the European Union, Dr Merkel said: "We, Europeans, want to play a role."

But, she added that "there has to be a bit of reciprocity on either side and we have a bit of difficulty in finding it".

Speaking on the third day of his visit to France, Mr Xi said China and Europe were "advancing together" but the two trading blocs needed to overcome "suspicions".

"Of course there are differences and competition, but it's positive competition," Mr Xi told a press conference with the European leaders.

"We are advancing together. We shouldn't let suspicions lead us to be constantly looking backwards."

 
 

Mr Macron urged his Chinese counterpart to "respect the unity of the European Union", and called for an "exemplary relationship" between Europe and China during the joint press conference.

Mr Juncker also called for a more balanced relationship, speaking ahead of a EU-China summit in Brussels on April 9.

"European businesses must see the openness in China" that Chinese companies enjoyed on the continent, he said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2019, with the headline 'EU wants to play active part in BRI, says MerkeI'. Print Edition | Subscribe