Chinese Ambassador to France Zhao Jinjun said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua that the Sino-French relations are at the best period at present since the two countries established diplomatic relations four decades ago.
Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to France in January, also his second trip to France in seven months, highly demonstrated the close, special and mature relations between China and France, Zhao stressed.
The visit, timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic ties, was marked by many first-ever events: Hu was invited to deliver a speech at the National Assembly, lower house of the French parliament, which was the first time for a Chinese and Asian leader; More than 7,000 Chinese and overseas Chinese were allowed to parade along the Champs Elysees avenue; The Eiffel Tower was lavished with oriental decorations and lanterns for one week.
Those events were a vivid manifestation of their close ties, as the two countries celebrated their anniversary in the grandest and unique way, said Zhao.
The ambassador noted the "Chinese Culture Year" opened last October in Paris as a magnificent event in China's history of cultural exchange. The project, lasting five months and containing more than 300 programs, aroused a strong "China fever" among the French people and media, and thus made considerable contribution to the warm-up of bilateral relations, he said.
Zhao said China and France shared views in many world affairs and had stood together in pursuing lasting peace of the world. The two countries defined their relations as "comprehensive strategic partnership" in a joint statement signed by two leaders in January, which reflects the future orientation of their ties, he added.
Zhao praised French President Jacques Chirac for his recent statements that clearly opposed "Taiwan independence" and the so called referendum on the island. Those remarks showed France was supporting China on major issues concerning China's fundamental interests, he said.
The ambassador also hailed the progress in bilateral economic cooperation, citing the record trade volume in 2003 of US$13.4 billion, which was up 60 percent from the previous year. French enterprises showed much interest in investing in China, and China had imported US$10.9 billion of hi-tech projects from France, which now ranks second in the European Union in terms of technology export to China.
The ambassador expressed satisfaction over the close Sino-French cooperation in the fields of science, culture and education.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2004)