Global Times: Mutual trust, curiosity and admiration for cultures constant factors in China-France relations

BEIJING, May 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ —

Editor’s Note:
Chinese President Xi Jinping is paying state visits to France, Serbia and Hungary from May 5 to 10 at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron of the Republic of France, President Aleksandar Vucic of the Republic of Serbia and President Tamas Sulyok and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. Ahead of the Chinese leader’s visit to France, Global Times reporter (GT) Chen Qingqing interviewed Eric Alauzet (Alauzet), president of the France-China Friendship Group in the French National Assembly, to talk about the implications of the visit for ChinaFrance relations, review the development of bilateral relations and discuss the role of ChinaFrance relations in China-EU relations. 

GT: What are your expectations for President Xi’s visit to Europe?

Alauzet: I wouldn’t say that exchanges are resuming because they have already resumed. During the COVID pandemic, exchanges were a bit more strained. Exchanges have resumed since President Macron visited China last April. Now President Xi is coming to France for the 60th anniversary [of the establishment of ChinaFrance diplomatic relations], so it’s an opportunity to deepen relations and continue the dialogue as openly as we have been doing for a long time, at all levels, from presidents and ministers to parliamentarians in the friendship group. Despite the difficulties or differences in views between [our two] countries, continuing to speak openly is key. 

GT: This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France. Could you share some important historical moments and achievements from these 60 years of ChinaFrance relations?

Alauzet: As we know, but perhaps less known to the French, the number 60 holds significant importance in Chinese culture. Personally, I have a deep understanding of this significance, as it marks the completion of a cycle, and thus it’s a moment to take an assessment of what has happened during these 60 years. Overall, the assessment is very positive, and it’s an opportunity, especially with the 60th anniversary and the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, to revitalize and give impetus to the new cycle that is beginning, in terms of the coming 60 years. So, it’s an important opportunity to reinvigorate and deepen our relations.

GT: Over the past 60 years, what have been the changes and constants in ChinaFrance relations?

Alauzet: The changes are undoubtedly linked to the deepening of relations between our two countries, a mutual understanding that continues to deepen, a better understanding, and thus the development of cultural and economic relations. But we must consider the general context; the changes are also related to the overall context, particularly in the economic field. 

There have been industrial revolutions in China and technological revolutions worldwide with artificial intelligence. So, all these developments have contributed to the change and deepening of our relations, as well as changes in geopolitical dynamics.

The constant factors are the mutual trust between our countries and the curiosity and mutual admiration for our cultures. Both cultures, each with several millennia of history, are so different, and therefore so attractive because of their differences. This has remained the same, while the changes, I would say, are mainly linked to the world situation.

GT: In your opinion, what role do ChinaFrance relations play in the context of China-EU relations? How will Europe’s position in Chinese foreign policy evolve?

Alauzet: I believe both China and France – and also Europe – advocate for multilateralism. 

France and China share the responsibility of being countries that avoid extremes and maintain balance, thus avoiding both unilateralism and a bloc-to-bloc approach, which would be equally detrimental. China places great importance on France, knowing that France has a measured position in its alignment with the US, contributing to Europe finding its path and promoting multilateralism.

GT: 2024 is the Year of Culture and Tourism between China and France, as well as the Olympic year for France. Could you please share the plans for cultural cooperation and exchanges between the two countries for this special year? And what role do cultural and human exchanges play in enhancing bilateral relations?

Alauzet: The primary and essential role of cultural relations is that there is never any disagreement. In cultural relations, there are enormous differences, but they assist our curiosity and interest more than they provoke any potential disapproval. So, cultural relations are always beneficial; they enrich us through our differences.

Personally, due to my professional evolution as a doctor interested in acupuncture, I have become passionate about Taoism. Taoism has not only inspired my professional life as an acupuncturist but has also influenced my personal life. I maintain my Western values, but I am deeply influenced by Taoism. Culture is the foundation; it is about emotion, sensitivity and bringing people closer.

With the 60th-anniversary celebration and this cultural year, there are numerous events happening in both China and France. I had the opportunity to attend a concert launched in the presence of the Minister of Culture at Versailles, at the Royal Opera House. It was a collaboration between our two orchestras, the Royal Opera House of Versailles and the Chinese orchestra, and it was fabulous. They performed French and Chinese works together, creating extraordinary moments.

I also supported a cultural cooperation project organized by two regions, involving the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, as I am based in Besançon, and the city of Hefei in Anhui Province. Recently, there was an inauguration where more than 10 artists from France exhibited their works in Hefei. In the coming autumn, 10 Chinese artists will exhibit their works in France. The program is very rich and it is quite exceptional.

GT: In the fields of emerging technologies, sustainable development and green energy, how can China and France seek new opportunities for cooperation?

Alauzet: I am very happy to see China engaged in issues of biodiversity and climate. I am very happy to see the rapid progress the Chinese are making in new technologies such as solar, photovoltaic, wind, as well as many others. I am delighted that China has joined the Paris Agreement to contribute, with its own history and deadlines to carbon neutrality.

France and Europe are also looking for ways to catch up with gigafactories for batteries, which does not prevent Chinese companies from developing collaborations in France and Europe for renewable energy production using solar, wind and other sources. When technologies are implemented in France, it should be done in partnership with French private or public companies, a bit like a gateway, and we should also take advantage of it to boost technology in France and Europe.

View original content to download multimedia: Read More