Chinese media praised Emmanuel Macron for choosing China for his first state visit to an Asian nation, but the decision would have come easy for the opportunist French President.

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With the US retreating from the world stage under Donald Trump’s presidency, and governments in Britain and Germany distracted by domestic politics, Mr Macron saw an opportunity to put himself at the centre of what he called a “rebalancing” of the relationship between Europe and China.

Much was at stake – particularly as British prime minister Theresa May is expected to pay a competing visit later this month – and so Mr Macron worked the charm from the moment he arrived.

He praised Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy…

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