BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- After five decades of ups and downs
since China and France established diplomatic relations, the two
countries are working to make their relationship more stable and
While meeting Speaker of the French National Assembly Claude
Bartolone last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he hopes
China and France will take advantage of the 50th anniversary
celebration of diplomatic ties to open a new chapter in bilateral
China and France should respect and trust each other, approach
their relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective, and
respect each other's core interests and major concerns to make the
bilateral relationship even more stable and predictable, Xi
France was the first major Western power to establish official
diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, which was
founded in 1949.
Mao Zedong and Charles de Gaulle, two outstanding leaders of
their times, decided to establish ambassador-level diplomatic ties
in 1964, a groundbreaking move that overcame the siege of Cold
Fifty years on, bilateral ties have evolved into a comprehensive
Bilateral trade hit 50 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, compared
with 100 million U.S. dollars in 1964.
There were also downturns in the development of friendship
following France's weapons sales to Taiwan in the late 1980s and
early 1990s and Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama in Poland in
But the frictions were resolved by the 1994 French-Chinese joint
communique and the joint press communique in 2009, in which France
said it would prohibit French firms' involvement in arming Taiwan
and that the country "refuses to support any form of 'Tibet
"Politically, China and France do not have fundamental
divergence. (But) it's impossible for the two countries to agree on
everything ...especially on issues related to internal management,"
said Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International
NO NEED TO SWING
European studies researcher Zhang Jian believes France's
vacillating poise at certain times was impacted by the
international and domestic circumstances of the moment.
Along with China's rise, France's economy and society have faced
difficulties under the shocks of financial crisis and the European
debt crisis, which have negatively affected France's foreign
diplomacy and led to decreased stability in its China policy,
according to Wang Yi, former political counselor at the Chinese
Embassy in France.
Wu Jianmin, former Chinese ambassador to France, stressed that
certain twists and turns have never changed the trend of advancing
He said economic competition between the two countries should
not be a source of misunderstanding, as it is inevitable in times
of globalization. "China has an advantage in labor force, but
France owns so many world-class brands."
For Jacques Vanminden, chairman of the Amicale France Chine
(Association for Friendship between France and China), France-China
relations have not reached the ideal stage he expected.
France is over-cautious and worried about increasing trade and
investment from China, which has given Italy and Germany
opportunities to catch up, he said.
Experts believe that French President Francois Hollande has been
adopting a more practical policy toward China.
Hollande visited China in April. He is the first leader of a
major Western power to visit Beijing since China's new leadership
In addition to the signing of an agreement for China to buy 60
Airbus planes and a number of deals in the nuclear energy industry,
the two countries agreed to boost cooperation in sectors such as
environmental protection, urban sustainable development and food
safety during the French President's visit to China.
In December, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited
China, reaching agreements on a series of issues including
deepening nuclear cooperation.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TOGETHER?
The 50th anniversary may be a new starting point for the two
countries to achieve another "diplomatic nuclear explosion," said
China and France, both permanent members of the United Nations
Security Council, have many common interests that should be jointly
Qu listed four common interests: anti-terrorism, nuclear
non-proliferation, international stability, and unobstructed
Qu said that China is predicted to import products worth 10
trillion yuan (about 1.6 trillion U.S. dollars) and invest 500
billion yuan overseas in the next five years, which will provide
many opportunities to French companies.
The two countries have also begun cooperation in Africa-related
fields. Vanminden said a China-France joint venture located in the
southwest of the Paris Basin is exporting clean energy to
Wang Yi said that the two countries should abandon their
differences in ideology and social systems, emphasize their common
interests and respect each other's strategic and core benefits.
"China should value France's safety concerns over its peripheral
regions such as Africa and the Middle East, while the French side
should also understand and support China's policies on the South
China Sea and its surrounding areas," Wang added.
As an important member of the European Union, France may make
use of its position to create a new growth point for Sino-French
Fifty years ago, France led other Western countries in setting
up diplomatic ties with China, and now it should play a leading
role in promoting a positive China policy within the EU, said Qu.
(Xinhua political writer Fu Shuangqi contributed to the
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