French President Emmanuel Macron will visit China for three days starting January 8, the Chinese foreign ministry said Tuesday, after the young leader declared the need for a stronger Europe to “face China”.

This will be Macron’s first state visit to the country, and the first by a European Union nation leader since the ruling Communist Party’s 19th national congress in October.

Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron. Photo: LeWebb, via Flickr.

President Xi Jinping secured a second five-year term as the head of the party at the twice-a-decade political meeting, becoming the most powerful Chinese leader in years.

News of the trip comes after Macron, 40, who campaigned on a pro-globalisation platform, called on France and all of Europe to return to its former glory during a televised New Year’s address Sunday.

“We need to… be a more sovereign, more united, more democratic Europe,” he said.

“I deeply believe Europe can become that economic, social, environmentally-friendly, scientific power that will be able to face China and the United States.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping is likewise pursuing the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

As leaders of two permanent UN Security Council member states, Macron and Xi are expected to discuss the Syrian crisis and North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The two have met just once before, at the G20 summit in Hamburg last July.

“We hope that (Macron’s) visit will help enhance political mutual trust and strategic communication between the two sides,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a regular press briefing Tuesday.

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