Look forward to new prospects for China-France relations

By Zhai Jun
Paris has already felt the warmth of the spring wind in March. In this beautiful season of the revivification of nature, President Xi Jinping is about to pay his second state visit to France.
In March five years ago, President Xi visited France, and the leaders of the two countries reviewed the precious experience of the development of bilateral relations in half a century. Both countries have followed the spirit of independence, mutual understanding, strategic vision and win-win cooperation in developing bilateral ties, a principle providing important guidance to an even brighter future of China-France relations.
Today, five years later, our world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. On one hand, the trend toward globalization and informatization is gaining momentum, and countries are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. The historical trend of peace, development, openness, and cooperation is irreversible. On the other hand, amid surging protectionism, unilateralism and populism, as well as growing uncertainty and instability in international situation, the global governance system based on multilateralism is faced with challenges unseen before.
There are certain historic occasions that empower us with the wisdom and strength to move forward. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. President Xi’s visit this time is the first visit to France by a Chinese top leader after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and President Emmanuel Macron’s assumption of office. It is of great significance for promoting the development of China-France and China-Europe relations in the new era.
The two countries will take President Xi’s visit as an opportunity to revitalize the spirit of bilateral diplomatic relations, and plan the future of bilateral relations from a historical and strategic perspective to better benefit both countries and people of the world.
China and France should continue to respect each other, seek common ground while reserving differences, and set a model of relations between eastern and western major countries. 55 years ago, China and France independently made a great decision to establish ambassadorial diplomatic ties, transcending their huge differences in geography, national conditions, ideology, and political systems and focusing on the common and long-term interests of both sides.
Today, the desire for independence and the pursuit of multi-polarity are still the underlying features of China-France relations, and the inexhaustible energy for boosting closer and sincere bilateral cooperation.
China and France should continuously make new progress for mutual benefit and win-win results, and deepen pragmatic cooperation and integration of interests.
The two sides will make solid efforts to advance cooperation in traditional fields such as nuclear energy and aerospace, and maintain the prominent characteristics of pragmatic and strategic cooperation. Both sides will also strengthen cooperation in emerging fields such as agricultural integration, digitalization, artificial intelligence, medicine and health, and green development to promote deep integration of development strategies.
Meanwhile, the two countries will also actively facilitate cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative via cooperation platforms in third-party markets, in a bid to chart the course for the BRI cooperation between China and Europe.
China and France should uphold openness, inclusiveness, exchanges and mutual learning to further strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation. Both countries should promote in-depth communication and cooperation in a wide range of areas including language, culture, science, education, health and sports, especially exchanges between young people, from a perspective of dialogue between the two civilizations.
By doing so, the two countries will bring closer the hearts of the two peoples, pass on bilateral friendship from generation to generation, and promote exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations in the world for the prosperity of human civilization.
Still further, China and France should stand together with a global perspective to enhance strategic coordination and cooperation. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and France should take responsibility for speaking with one voice on safeguarding basic norms of international relations, promoting global peace and prosperity, and advancing international unity and justice in an unstable world troubled by mounting unilateralism.
The two sides should also intensify communication and coordination to tackle climate change, address the Iranian nuclear issue, promote the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and build broader consensus to safeguard multilateralism and improve global governance.
These endeavors will provide solutions to challenges facing the international community and to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Spring is meant to bring people confidence and strength. I look forward to President Xi Jinping’s upcoming historic visit to France, which will bring new prospects for China-France relations and the world.
 (The author is Chinese Ambassador to France.)
(Source: People’s Daily)