PARIS, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- China, the second-largest world economy, faces numerous challenges as globalization is speeding up. However, with opening-up and reform policies, China has managed to achieve more balanced development, said former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
OPENING UP AND REFORM BENEFIT CHINA
In an interview with Xinhua in the central French city of Poitiers ahead of his visit to China, the ex-prime minister highly commended China's development in the economic and cultural fields over the past years, attributing the achievements to China's implementation of the opening up and reform policies.
"It was not easy to combine opening up and reforming. It was great to launch this trend with Mr. Deng Xiaoping," the ex-prime minister said, adding that the "harmony between openness and reforms" remains a main challenge for China.
However, Raffarin noticed that "progress has been made in China on a very large scale for the development of the western part of the country," citing changes in southwest China's Sichuan province which was once severely hit by earthquake.
"I often go to Chengdu (capital city) in Sichuan," he said. "A very important rebuilding work has been achieved and an effort to share Chinese development has been made," Raffarin said, noting that this means the country has not only developed its eastern coastal region, but also moved forward to its western region.
"The growth rate of a province like Sichuan represents the success of this policy of opening up in the western region," the ex-prime minister said.
The statesman mentioned that China is playing more important role in the world and he was deeply impressed by China's investments abroad.
"There are some efforts made in Africa which contribute to what we call Africa's rise and which are very significant," he said, adding that "if we sense growth perspectives today in Africa, it is also the result of Chinese investments."
Raffarin also noticed China's participation in international forums, such as the Rio+20 Conference.
China, "certainly entails rights, but also responsibilities. These responsibilities include thinking about the future of the planet and thinking about a green economy and growth, which is one of the objectives of the 12th Chinese (Five-Year) Plan," he said.
"I think that the 12th Chinese Plan sets many targets for China, but also provides many points of interest for other countries," Raffarin explained.
He admitted that China has played an important role in dealing with the global economic crisis, especially the eurozone debt crisis.
"It is very important to have China's backup for the eurozone's policy orientations. On several occasions, the Chinese authorities have voiced their trust in euro and it is very important, I think, that there is a show of solidarity during this crisis through financial support, monetary interventions," he said.
He indicated that "we are living nowadays not in a world where competition rules, but in a world where interdependence rules. So, everyone has an interest in the other's development and consequently, we have to make a choice, for which China and the BRICS have made a lot of political efforts, which is that, if we want a 'win-win' world, we need to put cooperation on the same level as competition."
CHINESE CULTURE FAVORABLE ABROAD
Raffarin believed China has made contributions to the world development in two major ways, one is its investment abroad, and the other is cultural exchange through the Confucius institutes.
"The Confucius Institute in Poitiers (Raffarin's hometown) has greatly improved the understanding of Chinese civilization," he addressed.
"China is going to play a leadership role without arrogance, a role of power but also of solidarity. I think that it is especially in the cultural field of Asian and Chinese way of thinking that it can be influential today and wield a very important soft power," the former prime minister told Xinhua.
He said not only has China today large technological, scientific and financial capacities, but it also offers another vision of the world, a perception of the organization of a multipolar world, a position which France shares with China on this vision of a multipolar world.
"I think that it is this cultural contribution of Chinese thinking which, in my mind, is worth sharing with a number of other countries," he added.
CHINA'S CHALLENGING BUT PROMISING FUTURE
In Raffarin's view, the main challenge in China is "to strike a good balance" between opening-up and reform.
"It is a difficult challenge which requires courage and vision, because not only does it mean to open up to the world, that is, to understand and take part in the world ... but also to make reforms to adapt to the world and try to adapt the world to one's own culture," Raffarin explained.
"China has managed to sit at the table of the world leading powers and to do so in a constructive and positive way," he said.
He noted the world crisis has generated problems and tensions everywhere, including the United States and Europe, and national cohesion is a common challenge.
Looking forward to the oncoming 18th national congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Raffarin said: "I think that the difficult part will be that the new leaders will not have much time to take actions, because, all around the world, the crisis is imposing the adoption of swift and often urgent measures."
He said the new leaders will have to act quickly to encourage growth, contribute to national harmony, maintain security, and endeavor to make the people's aspirations understood. "These are key elements for national cohesion," he said.