French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday called for a "rebalance" of trade with China during his first official visit, as he sought to curry up investment in France's stalling economy.
"We hope French products will have better access to the Chinese market," said the French premier after holding talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
France, which is struggling with weak growth and record high unemployment, imports two and a half times as much from China as flows in the opposite direction. In 2013, Paris ran a 26 billion euro ($29 billion) deficit with the Asian giant.
China's overall trade surplus, meanwhile, rocketed by almost 50 percent last year to a record $382 billion, the government announced earlier this month.
Li noted what he called "common concerns in the trade inequalities" between the two countries.
"China never pursues trade with just one country's trade market and we hope to achieve equal trade so as to make long-lasting trade," he said.
"We all work together to oppose trade protectionism and want to work under the banner of free trade."
The two oversaw the signing of 11 agreements, including a co-operation pact between Electricite de France and China General Nuclear Power Corp on reactor design, and a 30 million euro loan from France for works in a park in Shanxi province.
But while a substantial French business delegation accompanied Valls -- and despite his assurances to Chinese media that France was "more open than ever towards China, Chinese investors, students and tourists" -- no major commercial contracts were announced.
The visit comes as France and China celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.
It also comes ahead of a key UN Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year, where it is hoped a universal and legally binding agreement can be forged.
China "is very serious about tackling the climate change problem", Valls said.
"China plays a really important role in this because it is the world’s largest emitter, so it’s important that they are participating," he added.
"Only if China participates can we come up with a constructive agreement."
Li stressed that China is the world's largest developing nation and also one of the largest carbon emitters.
"In climate change, as a large country in the international community, it is our duty to take responsibility for the environment," he said.
When US President Barack Obama visited in November China announced a target for its carbon emissions to peak "around 2030".