EU, China commit to preserve multilateralism

The Latest: China signs deal to buy 300 Airbus planes

After he and Xi meet later on Monday, the two will hold further talks on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, heads of the European Union executive.

Airbus signed a deal worth tens of billions of dollars on Monday to sell 300 aircraft to China, coinciding with a visit to Europe by Chinese President Xi Jinping and matching a China record held by U.S. rival Boeing.

Meanwhile, Xi stressed that "a united and prosperous Europe fits in with our vision of a multipolar world".

Xi said that great changes have taken place in the global situation, but the China-France relations have always kept developing on a high level and in a sound and stable way.

The order, originally for 184 A320s for 13 Chinese airlines, was first announced during Macron's state visit to China in January 2018. As per the catalog, price and as stated by one French official the deal would cost China around 30 billion euros.

Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met at Elysee Palace in French capital Paris.

Germany's Angela Merkel, after meeting Xi in Paris, said Europeans "want to play an active part" in the belt and road project, as reported by Reuters.

Sat beside Xi, Macron said competition and cooperation were natural but that Europe and China should strengthen multilateralism through deeper cooperation.

Top EU officials and China will meet at a subsequent summit in Brussels on 9 April.

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Both Macron and Merkel insisted Tuesday on the need for "reciprocity" in relations with China and a level playing field regarding trade and business ventures.

European nations are also concerned about what they view as unfair trade practices by China that make it hard for foreign enterprises to compete fairly.

Days before Xi's visit, the European Commission released a sharply worded plan for balancing ties with China, warning that Beijing was a "systemic rival" as well as the bloc's biggest trading partner. Appearing with the Chinese leader at the presidential Elysee Palace, Macron said the two countries want to build a "strong Euro-Chinese partnership, based on clear, strict and ambitious rules".

They worry that strategically important infrastructure such as power networks, harbours and key rail lines will be in Chinese hands.

Another point of contention is the use of telecom giant Huawei's next-generation 5G mobile technology, which was not raised by the leaders on Tuesday. Following his meetings with Macron, President Xi argued that such initiatives would benefit all parties and lead to "win-win outcomes".

Meng's wife has had no news of her husband since his arrest in China almost six months ago.

He is believed to be facing corruption charges. It emerged Sunday she had written to Macron asking him to bring up his disappearance with Xi.

Nevertheless, despite its concerns, the European Union is keen to engage China as a closer partner.

Noting that the world today is faced with many hard problems regarding peace and development, Merkel underlined China's success and huge achievements in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

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