Global Times: China-France relations can serve as an inspiring example for East-West ties

BEIJING, May 7, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — France is the first stop of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s European trip. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. How to interpret the significance frequent high-level interactions between China and France? How important is the visit to preserve the two sides’ ability to engage in dialogue at the highest level? Three French observers shared their views with Global Times.

Pierre Picquart, a doctor in Geopolitics and Human Geography from the University of Paris-VIII, a writer, lecturer, specialist in China and international expert

France is influential within Europe and it can draw a new favorable model in ChinaEurope relations and within the framework of beneficial “East-West” cooperation.

France has a long tradition of diplomacy and international relations, which gives it credibility and expertise in the management of global affairs. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a founding member of the EU, France is often seen as an influential actor on the international scene. Thus, it can play a leadership role within the EU regarding the policies to adopt toward China.

France maintains strong bilateral relations with China, based on mutual respect and cooperation in various fields. These close relations allow France to serve as a bridge between Europe and China, facilitating dialogue and cooperation between the two parties. France can thus promote a balanced and constructive approach in ChinaEurope relations, by highlighting common interests and seeking solutions to common challenges.

France is often seen as a model of cooperation between East and West, due to its commitment to multilateralism, dialogue diplomacy and the promotion of universal values. ChinaFrance relations can therefore serve as an inspiring example for relations between East and West, showing that it is possible to overcome ideological and cultural differences to build a mutually beneficial partnership. For this to be possible, it is essential that France continues to promote dialogue, cooperation and mutual respect in its relations with China, while defending its interests and fundamental values.

Arnaud Bertrand, a French entrepreneur and commentator on economics and geopolitics

France’s foreign policy under de Gaulle was characterized by a very deep attachment to French sovereignty, meaning France’s ability to make its own decisions according to its own national interests.

He knew that China couldn’t be ignored and he knew that if France was the first Western country to recognize China, it will not only, again, be on the right side of history, but it will be at the forefront of history. He knew that this would benefit France for its future relations with China, because there can only be one Western country that was the first to establish diplomatic relations with China. Thanks to him that country will forever be France, which grants France a special place in China’s history.

In terms of the highlights in our relationship, French companies have benefited a lot from the Chinese market, and China has benefited from French technology as well. For instance, EDF (Électricité de France), the French electricity company, helped China build a nuclear power plant in Taishan, Guangdong Province. France’s luxury sector benefits hugely from the Chinese market. It’s fair to say it’s been a productive relationship between our two countries.

Laurent Michelon, author of the book Understanding the relation between China and the West (Comprendre la relation Chine-Occident)

I think the fact that President Xi visits France in May, just a year after French President Emmanuel Macron came to Beijing, is a significant sign of the strength of the relationship between France and China.

French companies are extremely keen on investing more in China. China is making itself more welcoming to foreign investment, especially from European countries. The administrative hurdles are being lowered. If we look at the interviews given by the leaders of big French or German companies, they are all very bullish on the relationship between Europe and China.

My book has been well received in France when I looked at the comments about my book. Many people are saying that finally somebody is giving us some factual information about China. So I think this was something people were waiting for and they are quite happy with it.

I’m explaining to the Western audience that China is always looking for a very central position, as neutral as possible, never interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and things like that. I always tell people: come to China and see for yourself. Now, you don’t even have the excuse of needing a visa; China has implemented a visa-free policy for many European countries, including France. China has always been very welcoming toward foreigners, whether tourists, investors, or businessmen.

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