France’s finance minister said during a visit to Beijing on Sunday that cutting all economic ties with China was “an illusion”, as some Western countries question their reliance on the Asian giant.
“We are totally opposed to the idea of decoupling. Decoupling is an illusion,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters at the French embassy.
“There is no possibility of having any kind of decoupling between the American, European and Chinese economies.”
Le Maire nonetheless defended France’s ambition to become more economically independent in certain sectors. But, he added, the concept of de-risking, which has become a byword in the West in recent months, “does not mean that China is a risk”.
“De-risking means that we want to be more independent… We don’t want to realise, as we realised during the Covid crisis, that we have too much dependence on some very specific components,” he added, citing microchips as one example.
Le Maire’s remarks come as some Western countries seek to reduce their economic dependence on China, particularly Germany, which counts the Asian country as its top trading partner and an important market for its automotive industry.
The United States has also advocated de-risking from China, though US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said during a visit to Beijing earlier this month that a decoupling of the US and Chinese economies would be “virtually impossible”.
China, meanwhile, has lashed out at Western efforts to de-risk, with Premier Li Qiang last month calling the concept a “false proposition”.
Le Maire is in China for high-level economic talks, and will travel on Monday to the southern tech hub of Shenzhen to meet with business leaders.