European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday that the EU would not shrink back from taking tough measures to protect its economy and security, amid tense trade relations with China.

"China that plays fair is good for all of us," she said following talks in Paris with Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron.

"Europe will not waver from making tough decisions needed to protect its economy and its security," she said. "We will defend our companies, we will defend our economies."

Von der Leyen said there were "imbalances that remain significant" and "a matter of great concern".

She singled out Chinese subsidies for electric cars and steel that were "flooding the European market".

China also continued to "massively support its manufacturing sector" whose surplus production could not be absorbed by the rest of the world.

Von der Leyen also said that China was not allowing EU companies fair access to its market.

While she expressed confidence of possible progress in talks, von der Leyen also said that "we stand ready to make full use of our trade defence instruments if this is necessary", adding that "Europe cannot accept market distorting practises".

Macron had earlier already pressed Xi on the Chinese leader's state visit to France to accept fair global trade rules for EU-China exchanges.

"The future of our continent will very clearly depend on our ability to continue to develop relations with China in a balanced manner," Macron said.

Separately Monday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that France wanted "an equitable and solid economic partnership" with China.

"We are currently far short of such an equilibrium," he told a French-Chinese business association meeting.

France was running a trade deficit of 46 billion euros ($49.6 billion) annually with China, Le Maire said.