France opposes idea of decoupling from China

2023-08-01 10:20:19China Daily Global Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

France is seeking improved entryways into the Chinese market, not "decoupling", said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, after meeting with high-ranking Chinese officials in Beijing.

A day after what he called "constructive" trade talks with Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng, Le Maire told a news conference on Sunday that France has a goal to establish a balanced, rather than separated, trade relationship with the world's second-largest economy.

As some countries in the West reassess their reliance on China, Le Maire said the idea of cutting economic ties is not an option in reality.

"We are totally opposed to the idea of decoupling. Decoupling is an illusion," Le Maire told reporters at the French embassy.

"There is no possibility of having any kind of decoupling (among) the American, European and Chinese economies."

During their meeting on Saturday, He expressed China's hope that France could "steady the tune" of China's relations with the European Union, and confirmed Beijing's readiness to enhance its collaboration with Paris on certain fields.

Le Maire defended France's aspirations for increased economic autonomy in specific sectors.

"We don't want to realize, as we realized during the COVID crisis, that we have too much dependence on some very specific components," Le Maire said, citing microchips as a case in point.

During her recent visit to Beijing, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said a full separation of the US and Chinese economies would be practically unfeasible, or "virtually impossible".

China ranks as France's third-most significant trade ally. Yet, there is growing apprehension among French companies that they could become collateral damage in the intensifying competition between Washington and Beijing, the globe's major economic forces.

On low-cost Chinese electric vehicles potentially saturating European markets, Le Maire said France, in collaboration with Europe, is focusing on enhancing the competitiveness of their electric vehicle subsidies.

Expanding operations

"We stand ready to have Chinese investments in the automotive industry in France and in Europe," he said, adding that it would be a "very good thing" for Chinese businesses to invest and expand their operations within Europe.

Le Maire is in China for high-level economic talks. He also lobbied for investment from China's fast-growing electric car industry. He was scheduled to fly to the southern tech hub of Shenzhen on Monday to meet with business leaders, including Wang Chuanfu, founder of BYD, one of the world's biggest electric vehicle producers.

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