China media: Xi's France visit

President Xi Jinping (left) held talks with his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Wednesday Image copyright AP
Image caption President Xi Jinping (left) held talks with his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Wednesday

President Xi Jinping's France visit, "angry reactions" from families of the passengers of the missing Malaysia jet and Taiwan's trade pact with China are the main themes in Thursday's papers.

Media analyse the "friendly" China-France relations as Mr Xi began his state visit from the south-eastern city of Lyon on Wednesday.

The Beijing News describes France's reception of Mr Xi as "grand".

"France 'pours out all it has' to receive Mr Xi", says the headline in the Shanghai Morning Post.

It adds that China's relations with France are no longer confined to politics but have broadened to include cultural and economic aspects.

Mr Xi paid tribute to Charles de Gaulle, the late French leader who ushered in a "new era of China-France relations". The countries will celebrate 50 years of establishing diplomatic ties this year.

Cui Hongjian, an expert on Europe affairs from the China Institute of International Studies, tells the China News Service that France established ties with China at a time when the West was suspicious of Beijing.

However, he adds that both countries have to move beyond "strategic partnership and glorious past" to strengthen co-operation in other areas.

"France is facing many problems in its economy, it urgently needs more trade and economy co-operation with China… and France has much experience and expertise to offer in areas such as agriculture, food, hygiene, finance and urbanisation. China-France relations have much room to grow," he says.

According to the Beijing Youth Daily, Mr Xi will visit the office of Unesco, the UN's cultural arm, in Paris and deliver a speech.

Ma Zhengang, vice-president of China Public Diplomacy Association, tells the daily that the new leadership of China places emphasis on "cultural diplomacy" and Mr Xi's visit to the Unesco office will help the world better its understanding of China's culture and its soft power.

'Extreme emotions'

Meanwhile, media are trying to calm "extreme" emotions displayed by netizens over the missing Malaysian plane.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Monday that the missing MH370 flight "ended" its journey in the ocean.

China's media and netizens have been extremely critical of the Malaysia-led search operation to locate the missing plane. The Security Times reports that the number of tour bookings to Malaysia has gone down by 50%.

Noting the decline as well as netizens' angry call to boycott a Malaysian singer's performance, a commentary in the Global Times urges people to refrain from showing "extreme feelings".

"There is a worrying sign that the public mood might be fanned by some opinion leaders at the price of ruining good people-to-people relations between the two countries," it says.

In a similar plea, a Beijing News commentary defends the singers and criticises prominent figures for "fanning nationalistic feelings" by making negative remarks on Malaysia.

"Under such influence, the anger is spreading... the Malaysian Chinese are those who have held on steadfastly to the Chinese traditions in South East Asia… By attacking the singers, it only reflects the foolishness of the people," it adds.

The Southern Metropolis repeats the call for better investigation work and the Beijing Times asks the airline to provide more emotional support to the victims' families.

Cross-strait ties

Elsewhere, media reiterate the importance of a cross-strait trade pact with Taiwan after hundreds of students occupied the Taiwan government's headquarters to protest against the deal.

The protesters say the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, which would allow the two sides to invest more freely in each other's services markets, would hurt Taiwan's economy and leave it vulnerable to pressure from Beijing.

Zhang Wensheng, an expert on Taiwan's affairs from Xiamen University, tells the Beijing Times that the trade pact represents goodwill of the mainland.

"Taiwan opens up 64 sectors to the mainland while mainland opens up 80… In reality, the trade conditions are not on equal terms… and Taiwan has imposed many restrictions," he says.

He adds that Taiwan's opposition is "deliberately exaggerating" the point that the agreement will cause massive unemployment.

"The students consider the negotiation as having been done behind closed doors, but I don't think they understand the rules of a negotiation," Zhu Songling, professor of Taiwan studies with the Beijing Union University, tells the Global Times.

And finally, a village in Pingdu city, Shandong Province, was on Friday set on fire over a land dispute. A man reportedly died in the fire.

Local media outlets report that villagers have accused a property developer and some officials of arson and land grabbing.

The Southern Metropolis Daily reports that police have arrested seven suspects allegedly involved in the arson.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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