PARIS, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- China's urbanization process, social development and economic growth over the past decade were remarkable and have greatly impressed the world, a French expert on China said.
"The upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will be a landmark moment," Pierre Picquart, who has a doctorate in geopolitics and human geography at the University of Paris-VIII, told Xinhua in an interview.
Over the past 10 years, China has gone through necessary reforms and emerged as the world's second largest economy, he said.
A large swath of regions across the country have been greatly developed and many Chinese enterprises started to invest overseas, he said, noting that China was transforming from a consumer goods producer into a world center of design and creation.
Such achievements, for a nation with a size equaling to a continent and a population of nearly 1.4 billion, were not easy to make, said Picquart.
"I have witnessed the extraordinary development of the country," he said, who has made more than 40 visits to China over the past 15 years.
On the challenges China will confront, the expert said Beijing, besides dealing with economic and social challenges, will also face problems arising from both geopolitical and strategic fronts in the years to come.
After rising to an economic power, China will encounter an array of challenges, including how to steer the world strategically toward a multi-polarized direction and how to boost ties with developing countries, especially with the BRICS members, he said.
On top of that, further engagement in the international affairs and improvement of global crisis management through the United Nations are also challenges that China will have to address, he added.
The next decade, the French expert said, is crucial to China, as Beijing will play an important role in such areas as financial regulation, economic governance, environmental protection and development of relations with other countries.
Speaking of China's development model, Picquart said the country has a cultural tradition stretching back to 5,000 years ago, much longer than those of Europe and the United States.
"I don't agree with the practice of blindly copying the experience of Europe. The United States has its own pattern. China should seek its own unique development model," he said.
He suggested that China should build on the merits of its distinctive cultural tradition and blaze its own trail of development.
By doing so, China will provide the world with a brand-new growth model, which is more harmonious and peaceful, he said, adding that the Chinese philosophy will make state relations more balanced and the Chinese culture will offer a different perspective, the one distinct from the West perception that a superpower will dominate the world by military strength.
"I think China will create a new cooperation model," he added.
Many Westerners are still biased against China, but they will gradually reverse their attitude as China continues to push forward the peaceful foreign policy and the opening-up initiative, the expert said.
"I think the best way to promote China's image is to let more people go to China, see the country by themselves and keep close contact with the ordinary Chinese," he said.