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Hollande praises Xi's anti-Trump stance, plans Asia tour

media French President François Hollande addresses members of the Asian community to mark the festivities of the Lunar New Yea Reuters/Stephane de Sakutin/Pool

French President François Hollande praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping for opposing Donald Trump-style protectionism and announced a tour of three Asian countries on Wednesday.

"We reject the temptation on turning in ourselves, of closure and protectionism even," Hollande said at a ceremony Wednesday to mark the Chinese new year.

He went on to praise Xi for statements at the Davos World Economic Forum in which he championed free trade and globalisation in contrast to the "America first" stance of the new US president.

Xi defended trade, "which should be the rule between the great continents", Hollande commented, adding that the world should "struggle against the temptations of protectionism".

Hollande has criticised Trump, both implicitly and explicitly, several times since the US presidential election, hitting out at his stance on free trade while on a visit to Latin America and calling on him to have a "sense of responsibility" after his ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has slammed Trump's hints that the US may change its one-China policy and recognise Taiwan as an independent state, which would seriously anger Beijing.

Visit to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia

The French president also announced a final tour of three Asian countries in March before the end of his term.

"I will soon go to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia", he said.

Singapore, "a country of innovation", has a "large French community", he pointed out, while Malaysia "has become of France's main economic partners" in south-east Asia.

Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, has a tradition of "open and tolerant" Islam, "allowing us to share the same message of peace", Hollande declared.


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