Looking forward to higher level of Sino-French ties

(People's Daily Online)

10:50, April 26, 2013

Edited and Translated by Liang Jun, People's Daily Online

French President Francois Hollande began his two-day visit to China on Thursday. It is Hollande's first visit to China and he is also the first head of state of a Western country visiting China since Chinese new leadership came to office in March. Undoubtedly, it is of greatly significance to the long-term development of China-French ties.

In China’s relationships with the European countries, China-French ties have special significance.

As a traditional Western power, France is one of the few countries with great ambitions and global views. It has long pursued independent diplomacy.

In 1964, former president Charles de Gaulle acknowledged new China despite opposition from the United States, which is an important decision with epoch-making significance. China-French ties have since been endowed with uniquely strategic meaning.

During Jacques Chirac's term as president, France gave China full understanding and respect on sensitive issues involving China's core interests such as Taiwan and Tibet related issues. China-France relations have grown to one of the best ties between China and other European countries.

The two countries have relatively more consensus on promoting multi-polarization of the world and building a fairer and more reasonable international economic and political order. They also have relatively more common concerns in global economic and political issues.

France is the earliest European country that established all-round strategic partnership with China and also the first country that made the decision to develop a new type of all-round strategic partnership with China. This makes China-French ties special among China’s ties with European countries.

Currently, world situation is complex and variable, and global economic development still faces many uncertain factors. Both countries are facing common opportunities and challenges.

Cooperation between the two countries has become more necessary and urgent. Deepening cooperation will bring huge common interests to both sides in economy and trade, culture, technology and diplomacy.

For France, to expand cooperation and to strengthen friendly ties with China will facilitate its nuclear and aerospace products and services to expand Chinese market, giving it the upper hand in competition with Germany, the United States and Japan in Chinese market.

In addition, with the rapid economic growth and improving purchasing power in China, importance of Chinese market is increasingly growing for French luxury goods, agricultural products and tourism industry. France has been increasingly aware of the importance of taking advantage of China's development opportunities to promote its own economic development.

On the other side, one of the most important goals of French diplomacy is to defend its status as a leading power. But due to debt crisis and falling international status and influence, without support and cooperation from China and other leading powers, French diplomatic ambitions will be difficult to achieve. A series of world issues France are concerned about including Africa development, Iran nuclear issue, climate change and reform of international financial system will be more difficult to solve.

For this reason, China and France have attached great importance to Hollande's visit to China. It is expected that the two countries will reach a series of cooperative agreements in the areas such as economy and trade, cultural exchange and sustainable development. They will also hold in-depth talks on regional and international hot issues of common concern. Therefore, Hollande's visit to China will further enhance mutual political trust and inject new vitality for the sustained development of bilateral ties.

Needless to say, there are divergences between the two sides including trade disputes and human rights. It is normal to have differences, but it is important that both sides can treat each other as equal, communicate openly, deal with divergences pragmatically and would not do things harming each other's core interests.

Development of the China-French relations tell us as long as the two sides handle bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, respect and take into consideration each other's core interest, the bilateral relations will be able to develop steadily and rapidly. Once drifting away from the principle, the bilateral ties will fluctuate and get off normal track. We are looking forward to a higher level of China-French ties.

The story is written by Zhang Jian, deputy director of the Institute of European Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).

Read the Chinese version: 期待中法关系再上层楼(望海楼), source: People's Daily Overseas Edition, author: Zhang Jian

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