China 'ready to work' with new French president

China said Monday it was ready to work with France after the election of Socialist Francois Hollande as president, amid concerns his victory could derail Paris's deficit-cutting plan.

The 57-year-old Socialist won power Sunday in a close race against incumbent right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy, triggering joyful street parties, and now faces the immediate challenge of dealing with Europe's debt crisis.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China's President Hu Jintao had sent a message of congratulation to Hollande, who has vowed to slow the pace of Sarkozy's public spending cuts.

"China is ready to work together with the French side... to deal with bilateral relations from a strategic and long term perspective," Hong told journalists at a regular briefing.

"China believes that maintaining a positive momentum of the healthy and steady development of China-France relations not only serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples, but also world peace, stability and development."

Asian markets and the euro slumped on Monday amid concerns that victories for Hollande in France and for opposition parties in Greece marked a backlash against austerity measures designed to contain the eurozone crisis.

Both Japan and China hold huge amounts of euro-denominated debt and Tokyo has said it will monitor Hollande's economic policies closely.

Europe is China's top export market, and the current eurozone crisis -- which has seen a wave of credit-rating downgrades and brought Greece to the brink of default -- has caused major concern in Beijing.

China's state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial Monday that the election was "not likely to bring change".

"An administration change cannot generate the strong will needed to kickstart public debt reform in France. The change has to come from reflection of a wider scope," it said.

"But protests against austerity measures from Greece to France have suggested that this much-needed reflection is far from coming. Statesmen are busy pleasing voters, not leading reflection."

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