Feedback | Thursday, May 23, 2024

Xi’s visit to France to open up new prospects for bilateral relations

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to France is of great significance in building on the past achievements and opening up new prospects for bilateral relations as the two countries celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Xi started his state visit to France on Sunday at the invitation of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

The visit marks the second state visit by China’s head of state to France in five years and coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

During the visit, Xi will hold talks with Macron and exchange in-depth views on China-France and China-Europe relations as well as on international and regional hotspot issues of common concern.

France was the first major Western country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China at the ambassadorial level in 1964, and the bilateral relationship has been steadily strengthened since then.

In 1997, France took the lead among Western countries in establishing a comprehensive partnership with China, which was upgraded into a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2004.

Then in 2014, Xi paid his first state visit to France in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He and Francois Hollande, the then French president, agreed to open up a new era of a close and enduring China-France comprehensive and strategic partnership.

The China-France bond has become a special one, and it has always been at the forefront of China’s relations with major developed countries in the West, Xi said during the visit.

He also hailed China and France as “special friends and win-win partners” in an article for a French newspaper ahead of his March 2014 visit, a message the Chinese president reiterated ahead of his second state visit to the European country in March 2019.

The two countries have conducted pioneering cooperation through a wide range of initiatives, from inaugurating the civil air route between China and the West to beginning civil nuclear energy cooperation.

France was the first Western country to sign an inter-governmental science and technology cooperation agreement with China, and to establish a third-party market inter-governmental cooperation mechanism with China.

France was also the first country to exchange with China in hosting a cultural year and setting up cultural centers, and was the first major Western country to conduct youth exchanges with China.

Climate change has been an important part of China-France cooperation as the two countries have both committed to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions.

China aims to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, while France has set the neutrality target for 2050.

In 2015, the landmark agreement, the Paris Agreement, was adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and entered into force in 2016. China has made a historic contribution to the agreement, according to Laurent Fabius, then president of the Paris Climate Conference.

China and France have enjoyed a long history of cooperation in space. In 1997, the two governments signed an agreement in the peaceful use of outer space, marking the first cooperation in the space field.

The first oceanographic satellite jointly developed by the two countries was successfully launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in October 2018.

During French President Macron’s visit to China in April 2023, China gifted 1.5 grams of lunar samples for scientific use to France.

China launched Chang’e-6 probe to study the dark side of the moon on Saturday, carrying a French RadoN detector. This is the first time China and France have cooperated in lunar exploration, and it is also France’s first lunar landing space project.

Sixty years on, France has become China’s third largest trading partner and the third largest source of actual investment in the European Union. China is France’s largest trading partner in Asia and seventh largest trading partner in the world.

Notably, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed his vision on and expectations for strategic autonomy for Europe on his return flight to France after wrapping up a visit to China in April 2023.

In November, Beijing announced a 15-day visa-free policy for short-term stays of French citizens in China, and Paris announced that Chinese holders of a master’s degree obtained through study in France would be granted a five-year visa.

“The unique history of China-France relations has shaped the ‘China-France spirit’ featuring independence, mutual understanding, foresight, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. Facing the next 60 years, China and France will work together to create greater glories,” Xi said during his speech at a reception celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France in January.

(Reuters)

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