Roundup: French share confidence in boosting ties with China

Updated: January 29, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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PARIS, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Business and cultural leaders in France expressed approval in further developing China-France ties in recent interviews with Xinhua.

The strategic partnership between the two countries, featuring independence, mutual understanding, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation and thus yielding great achievements in the past, will break new ground with refreshed vitality, they said upon the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

ICE-BREAKER

"When General de Gaulle recognized the People's Republic of China on January 27, 1964, he crossed the divide between blocs and affirmed France's independence. He also paid tribute to China, her past, her culture and her potential. Since then, relations between the two countries have been marked by mutual respect," said Bruno Guigue, a French geopolitical analyst.

This historical event has pushed the global landscape to evolve in the right direction of dialogue and cooperation, which still offers inspiration for today, as Chinese President Xi Jinping put it when he exchanged congratulations with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Saturday.

What happened the same day 60 years ago amid the Cold War "proves that at that time both countries were already rejecting the divide of East-West blocs," said Lyazid Benhami, vice president of the Paris Association of French-Chinese Friendship.

"Nowadays, the relations between France and China are still outstanding," said French writer and sinologist Lea Bessis.

She said that "important exchanges in culture and education" create mutual understanding between the two people. She added that France is a major European trade partner for China, with significant volume in crucial sectors such as aeronautics and energy. The two share common interests, especially in defending multilateralism, fighting climate change, and cooperating in innovation and technology.

"These relations, complex and multidimensional, evidently covering both achievements and challenges, contribute significantly to world peace and stability," she said.

BIGGER "PIE" FOR MUTUAL BENEFIT

The two partners step into the 7th decade of their relationship. Today, France is the third-largest trading partner and the third-biggest investor in the European Union for China. China is France's top trading partner in Asia and the seventh-largest trading partner globally.

"Across the past three decades, as a pioneering company in the China market, Danone has thrived in the flourishing relation between China and France, while actively contributing to its development," said Bruno Chevot, president of Danone China, North Asia and Oceania.

"This partnership between our nations hasn't just facilitated the entry of Danone's products into China. It has also strengthened our determination to deepen our footprint and make China one of Danone's largest markets in the world. In recent years, our commitment to 'innovate in China, produce in China' has accelerated, harmonizing seamlessly with China's quest for quality-driven development." he said.

Celebrating the significant milestone in the Sino-French diplomatic ties, Chevot told Xinhua that Danone "steadfastly believes that the everlasting friendship between China and France will continue to unlock growth opportunities for enterprises in both countries."

When delivering a video speech to a reception in Beijing celebrating the anniversary on Thursday, President Xi announced that the two countries need to "make the 'pie' bigger for mutual benefit, and pool cooperation forces and share development opportunities through openness."

For Electricite de France (EDF), the first foreign company to support the development of nuclear power in China, a bigger "pie" is already in sight.

"We were pioneers in nuclear cooperation with China, and this pioneering spirit continues with offshore wind power," Fabrice Foucade, the French power giant's chief representative in China, told Xinhua.

In March 2019, during Xi's visit to France, EDF and the Chinese power utility China Energy Investment Corporation signed an agreement to jointly deliver two offshore wind power projects in China. It was the first Sino-foreign offshore project in China.

"We'll continue to be a pioneer, making fine projects and fine investments in renewable energies and energy services," said Fourcade. "I see two characteristics of our commitment in China: a pioneering spirit and consistency. The pioneering spirit isn't there to make a splash; it's there to be present over the long term, to build trust and a shared, reciprocal commitment."

YEAR OF CULTURE AND TOURISM

The year 2024 also marks the France-China Year of Culture and Tourism, and the two sides are expected to hold various activities. "It's an outstretching hand, a bridge between the populations of our two countries, a call to get to know each other," said Catherine Ruggeri, inspector general of Cultural Affairs at the French Ministry of Culture.

"Relations are founded on a genuine knowledge of and respect for each other's cultures. Obviously, China is a huge country compared to France, but France has a very lively, deeply-rooted culture. I'm often amazed by my Chinese friends when I've noticed how much they know about French literature and science, and the French who love China also love its immense cultural heritage," she told Xinhua.

"It's very interesting to deepen cultural relations and discover a whole side of a civilization that we don't know very well," said Catherine Pegard, president of the Versailles Palace, whose Royal Opera theatre will stage a gala next Wednesday to celebrate bilateral ties.

"There is a mutual fascination between the two countries, two very ancient civilizations, a central place occupied by culture and heritage, a common taste and great achievements in the fields of art, fashion and gastronomy," said Olivier Bosc, director of the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal.

"It is only natural that our diplomatic relations should reflect a long-standing and living affinity in these fields," he added.

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia