Xi Visits Monaco As Macron Calls Europe To Contend China’s Advances

President Xi Jingping at Monaco
Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife Princess Charlene pose with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan at the Monaco Palace, Monaco, March 24, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived on the French Riviera on Monaco on Sunday in the aim of gaining support from European leaders on his Belt and Road Infrastructure projects before his scheduled meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron who is trying to forge a united European front to contend China's advances.

The two leaders met for dinner in the south of France on Sunday before their official talks between them. On his tweet, Macron said that they are very happy to welcome President Xi Jinping and his wife to France. He added that the Chinese President's visit will strengthen our strategic partnership and affirm the role of France, Europe, and China towards a strong multilateralism.

The Chinese president and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrived at the resort city of Nice's airport where he was welcomed by the Foreign Minister of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian and France's guard of honor. Before the meeting with the French president, Xi visited the nearby principality of Monaco where he was welcomed by Prince Albert II. The two leaders discussed economic and environmental issues during their bilateral talks in Monaco.

China has been establishing itself as a global player in the trade. Recently, Italy joined the Asian nation's Belt and Road initiative making it the first G7 state to sign up to the new "silk road" project of China. China's Belt and Road Initiative is aimed to connect Asia to all the continents through infrastructure projects like building ports, subways, and railroad system. The initiative, however, was criticized by other nations including the United States that claims that the infrastructure aids of the Asian economic giant are a debt trap for emerging nations. China defends the projects as a two-way street of investment and trade for other nations who wants to participate. Recently, Germany criticized Rome in participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on the interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper that in a world with giants like China, Russia or our partners in the United States, we can only survive if we are united as the EU. The minister added that if some countries believe that they can do clever business with the Chinese, then they will be surprised when they wake up and find themselves dependent.

Günther Oettinger, the EU's German budget commissioner, said that Europe needs to ensure that it retains its autonomy and sovereignty when dealing with China.

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