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Sino-French Scientific Cooperation Enhanced
China and France will fortify their long-standing partnership to achieve ever more fruitful exchanges and co-operation in the fields of science and technology.

France's Minister of Science and Technology Claudie Haignere and her Chinese counterpart expressed their mutual intentions in an exclusive interview yesterday with China Daily.

"My visit and contacts in Beijing these days have built up my understanding that China, as France, is devoted to independently opening to outside world," said Haignere.

The former astronaut -Europe's first woman in space - has been on week-long visit to China to attend the 10th conference of the Sino-French Science and Technology Mixed Committee, set up in 1978 to forge solid co-operation in that regard.

The minister said about 700 joint projects in the various fields of science and technology have been conducted since 1978. Some 10,000 Chinese scientists and researchers have spent time in France completing those projects, while some 4,000 French scientists have visited China in more than two decades.

Haignere, 45, said China and France should focus more attention on the environment and energy projects in future projects in a bid to achieve sustainable development on the earth.

"Seen from the space, the earth is so tiny and so fragile and we should extend more love to it during our development," said the minister, who went into orbit in 1996 and 2001.

Haignere also revealed that in her meeting with Premier Zhu Rongji, she expressed a willingness to carry out astronaut exchanges between the two countries to help China realize manned space flight as soon as possible.

The two countries also agreed on the building of a Sino-French science and technology center. The planned center will be a place for those from the fields of science, technology, industry and local and central authorities to exchange ideas and negotiate, said the French minister.

In addition, the two countries organized a conference in Beijing during the weekend to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sino-French Program of Research Advanced (PRA), begun in 1991 to launch co-operation in the high-tech sector.

Haignere's Chinese counterpart Xu Guanhua said the landmark program had significantly improved the standard of China's high-tech co-operation with other countries.

"The PRA, on the basis of equal co-operation, has promoted other developed countries to start high-tech exchange with China and it is really crucial for us," Xu said.

Under the auspices of the program, Xu said the two countries had begun research in important fields, including biological technology, material technology and applied mathematics.

(China Daily October 28, 2002)

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