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Roving Periscope: “No new Cold War,” Xi urges France, EU amid tensions

Roving Periscope: “No new Cold War,” Xi urges France, EU amid tensions

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: As his ally Russian President Vladimir Putin continued the Ukraine war and launched nuclear drills against the West, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to help fend off a “new Cold War.”

The visiting Chinese President told Macron the two nations should uphold mutual benefits, and jointly oppose decoupling and the disruption of supply chains, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing comments made during talks between the two leaders on Monday.

Xi is in Paris on a two-day state visit before heading to Serbia and Hungary on his first trip to the European Union bloc in five years to convince Europeans that Beijing offers an economic opportunity. But the US has warned the EU about the risks ahead in doing so, the media reported on Tuesday.

China and the EU are at odds on multiple fronts, including Russia’s war in Ukraine and international trade and commerce. The EU’s distrust toward Beijing is growing, as shown by a recent flurry of arrests of alleged Chinese spies and a salvo of trade probes. Beijing’s “no limits” friendship with Moscow has helped Russia prolong the Ukraine war and weather unprecedented Western sanctions but made China suspect in Europe.

President Macron made it clear that there cannot be security in Europe without security in Ukraine. “We are at a historical turning point where threats are at an unprecedented level and the risks of global fragmentation are considerable,” he said with Xi by his side at a business conference in Paris.

Xi said the conflict could only be resolved through negotiations involving both sides and warned against using it as a tool to criticize China.

“We oppose this crisis being used to place responsibility on a third country, tarnish its image, and incite a new cold war,” the Chinese leader said.

They also called for a worldwide ceasefire during the Olympic Games 2024 that start in Paris in late July.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who joined the talks with the two leaders on Monday, said the EU is prepared to defend its economies if China fails to offer fair access to its markets.

As the US did, the EU is also becoming tougher on trade relations with China, particularly state-fueled overcapacity in the green industry. The EU is probing into subsidies for Chinese electric vehicles and the procurement of medical devices.

Supporting the EU’s firmer approach, Macron has urged the bloc to do more to echo subsidies in the US and introduce preferences for its homegrown industry in strategic sectors including artificial intelligence (AI) and green technology.

Still, Macron insisted that the EU is forging its path to protect it from unfair competition regardless of its origin.

“Nobody dictates our trade, economic, and technology policy,” he said. “We wish it to be sovereign, which means independent.”

China also launched an anti-dumping investigation into liquor products, that could hurt France’s cognac producers disproportionately, denied generating overcapacity, and accused the EU of protectionism.

China and France also signed 18 bilateral cooperation agreements in areas including green development, aviation, and people-to-people exchanges, the Foreign Ministry said in Beijing.


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