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BREAKING NEWS

Macron invites Merkel and Juncker for meeting with China's Xi Jinping

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Jean-Claude Juncker, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel & Xi Jinping, March 26
Jean-Claude Juncker, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel & Xi Jinping, March 26 -
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REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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French President Emmanuel Macron invited EU leaders Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker to join him and present a united European front on Tuesday morning on the third day of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to France.

The four leaders are to discuss climate change and multilateral relations between Europe and China.

Macron has been vocal about wanting to switch the EU's approach to China from a bilateral standpoint to an EU-wide strategy.

The Elysée said in a statement that a united front is "necessary to truly defend the interests and values that unite the countries of the European Union" and to protect the bloc from "the great transformations of the contemporary world".

"The face of a Europe that speaks with one voice on the international scene is emerging," the statement added.

READ: China's Belt and Road plan: Why did Italy sign it and why is Brussels worried?

READ: Xi arrives in Paris as Macron pushes for united EU front

€40 billion

The meeting with the German chancellor and the European Commission president comes just a day after Macron and Xi announced a slew of deals between their respective countries totalling about €40 billion.

China concluded a deal to buy 300 Airbus aircraft for a reported €30 billion while French energy company EDF signed a €1 billion-contract with the China Energy Investment Corporation to develop an offshore wind farm.

Energy equipment manufacturer Schneider Electric, banking giant BNP Paribas and shipbuilder CMA CGM also signed deals with Chinese companies worth some €6 billion, €1 billion and €1.2 billion, according to France's Le Figaro newspaper.

'Wake up in dependency'

Criticism about China's trade policy has increased since the election of US President Donald Trump. Western countries accuse China of creating an uneven playing field by forcing western companies to hand over technology to access the Chinese market while also making it difficult for foreign businesses to win public procurement contracts.

France and Germany also said last month that they would look to reform EU competition policies after the Commission rejected a proposed merger between Alstom and Siemens which they'd hoped would result in the emergence of a European champion capable of competing with Chinese rivals.

China meanwhile has been championing its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — which aims to link the country to south-east and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa through an infrastructure network on the lines of the old Silk Road — and which has been described by some as "debt-trap diplomacy".

Italy drew sharp criticism from Germany and EU officials last week when it became the first G7 nation to sign up to the BRI.

"Countries that believe they can do clever business with the Chinese will wonder when they suddenly wake up in dependency," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Welt Am Sonntag newspaper as cited by Deutsche Welle.

But Xi sought to dismiss French criticism in a tribune published on Sunday in Le Figaro.

"It's up to us to work with France to develop a global and strategic partnership that is more robust, stable and dynamic," Xi wrote.

He added; "We want our development to benefit others and that's the case with the BRI."