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Chinese, French leaders vow to seek 'multipolar' world as French president visits China

  • c4cc71cce35d090d300f6a7067000993.jpg

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, gestures while escorting French President Francois Hollande as they review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, April 25, 2013. Hollande is in China on a visit aimed at shoring up trade relations amid France's worsening economic woes. (AP Photo/Mark Ralston, Pool) (The Associated Press)

  • b740989be34c080d300f6a706700222d.jpg

    French President Francois Hollande, left, walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, April 25, 2013. Hollande is in China on a visit aimed at shoring up trade relations amid France's worsening economic woes. (AP Photo/Yohsuke Mizuno, Pool) (The Associated Press)

  • 0bbbecf7e35a090d300f6a706700cf65.jpg

    French President Francois Hollande, center left, gestures to Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, as they prepare to review an honor guard outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Hollande is in China on a visit aimed at shoring up trade relations amid France's worsening economic woes. (AP Photo/Mark Ralston, Pool) (The Associated Press)

  • c6ab6a7fe368090d300f6a70670057d9.jpg

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, second from left, talks with French President Francois Hollande, unseen, during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Hollande is in China on a visit aimed at shoring up trade relations amid France's worsening economic woes. (AP Photo/Yohsuke Mizuno, Pool) (The Associated Press)

  • 2c83c8c1e367090d300f6a706700f92c.jpg

    French President Francois Hollande, second from right, talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, unseen, during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Yohsuke Mizuno, Pool) (The Associated Press)

China's President Xi Jinping and France's President Francois Hollande pledged to push for a world free of domination by any superpower Thursday as the French leader visited the Chinese capital in hopes of boosting trade amid his country's worsening economic woes.

Both leaders stressed their desire for a "multipolar" world that would dilute Washington's influence — though they did not mention the U.S. in their comments.

"China and France are both great countries with a strong sense of independence," Xi said at a news conference, adding that the two countries would "actively promote a multipolar world and the democratization of international relations."

Xi and Hollande, who is traveling with a delegation representing scores of French businesses, spoke to reporters after meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

"China and France both want a multipolar world. We want there to be a balance. We refuse a world of powers, and of superpowers," Hollande said. "When China and France agree on a position, we can drive the world."

French businesses hit by domestic declines are hoping to sign deals in China in areas from aircraft sales and car making to nuclear energy and food exports. France registered a $34 billion trade deficit with China last year and accounts for less than 2 percent of the Asian giant's foreign trade.

"There is an imbalance in our foreign trade, and we hope to correct that," Hollande said. "Not by reducing our investment and exports, but by increasing them further, and we will be discussing this throughout our meetings and this trip."

The French delegation visits Shanghai on Friday.