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Macron's French election win bodes well for ties with China

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-09 07:52

Macron's French election win bodes well for ties with China

French President-elect Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at his campaign headquarters after early results in the second round in the 2017 French presidential election in Paris on Sunday. Lionel Bonaventure / Reuters

The victory of independent centrist Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election run-off on Sunday has allowed those worried about rising right-wing nationalism in Europe to heave a sigh of relief.

With Macron winning just over 66 percent of the votes, it is evident that his message of a strong and progressive Europe struck a chord with voters, even after the populist victories of the leave campaign in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump's election as US president.

His triumph strengthens France's place as one of the central pillars of the European Union, and bodes well for what it stands for: open trade, the free flow of people and cooperation.

Macron's victory, therefore, was also a victory for reason over extremism.

Yet he still faces many challenges ahead. The country has deep economic and social divisions, with a high unemployment rate, especially among the young people. And the abstention rate of around 25 percent, highest this century, and a record share of blank or spoiled ballots by more than 11 percent of the voters, show many felt neither Macron nor his opponent, anti-EU, anti-immigration Marine Le Pen, was speaking for them.

Meanwhile, France is still in a state of emergency following a string of terrorist attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 230 people. All of which mean it will not be easy for Macron to deliver on his message of change, hope, unity and healing.

One source of support could be China.

As President Xi Jinping said in a congratulatory message to the French president-elect immediately after his election win, both nations have significant strategic importance and international influence and share a responsibility for maintaining peace and facilitating development in the world.

Sino-French relations have been developing healthily and steadily in recent years, and there is ample common ground for win-win cooperation between China and France. Not least in the economic arena where Macron has pledged to promote globalization and free trade, for which China has now become the torchbearer.

There is also much space for improvement in their trade relations, which lag significantly behind Sino-German trade.

And as Macron noted previously, China can also be "an important ally" to France and Europe in tackling climate change and fighting terrorism.

Working together, as Xi proposed in his message, will "move the strategic Sino-French partnership to a higher level". This will benefit not only the two countries and peoples, but also global stability and development.

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