French President Emmanuel Macron said China and Europe should work together on Beijing's "Belt and Road" initiative, the project intended to build a modern-day "Silk Road" which Macron said could not be "one-way."
Speaking Monday to an audience of businessmen, academics and students in the city of Xian, the eastern departure point of the ancient route, Macron said the Silk Roads “were never only Chinese," adding that "By definition, these roads can only be shared. If they are roads, they cannot be one-way."
The Belt and Road project, unveiled in 2013, is aimed at connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Pakistan, Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $124 billion for the New Silk Road project at a summit in May, but it has been received with suspicion in Western capitals as more of an intention to assert Chinese influence than Beijing's desire to spread prosperity.
After a three-day visit in Xian, Macron and his delegation of some 60 business executives and officials will travel to China’s capital.
Macron plans to seek a "strategic partnership" with Beijing on a number of issues, including terrorism and climate change, and make Xi an ally in implementing the Paris accord after the United States withdrew from the deal.
Along with his wife Brigitte, Macron began an official trip to China Monday, visiting the Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xian, a centuries-old Big Wild Goose Pagoda - a Buddhist site - and the city's mosque.