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China, France to Push Cooperation to New High

China and France are commemorating the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic ties with grand celebrations to show their wish to push to a new high their exchanges and cooperation that have never been better.

During his three-day state visit starting later on Monday, Chinese President Hu Jintao will be here to attend celebrations of the event that exerted an impact on the world 40 years ago.

The visit, his second trip to France since he became president, has historical significance, analysts say. Hu attended the informal south-north leaders dialogue meeting in Evian in June last year.

In October 1963, former French Prime Minister Edgar Foure went to China, carrying with him a hand-written letter from President Charles de Gaulle, authorizing him to conduct talks on diplomatic ties with Chinese leaders.

After months of negotiations, China and France issued a joint communique on Jan. 27, 1964, announcing the establishment of diplomatic relations with ambassadors to be appointed within three months.

France thus became the first major Western country to forge formal diplomatic relations with China.

"We both maintain independence and sovereignty and oppose foreign interference or encroachment. It was self-evident that China and France recognized each other despite political pressure in the Cold War era," said Chinese Ambassador to France Zhao Jinjun.

He said, "The milestone event could also be interpreted as the beginning of the growing global aspiration for a multi-polar world."

"Forty years of the intensifying cooperation has further proved that nations different in ideology, system, culture and traditions could coexist in harmony and for mutual benefits," he added.

For Yves Guena, President of France's Constitutional Council, the establishment and development of French-Chinese cooperation are a thing that could not have been more natural.

"A big country with a huge population was there in the East. Gen. de Gaulle had the common sense because it would have been absurd not to recognize China," said Guena.

The importance of the two countries' cooperation in the international arena is obvious because both are permanent members of the UN Security Council, not to mention that China is the largest developing country undergoing great changes while France exerts special influence on European affairs, said Ambassador Zhao.

He stressed that leaders of both countries attach great importance to the bilateral ties.

In 1997, Presidents Jacques Chirac and Jiang Zemin signed a joint communique committing themselves to building an all-around partnership oriented toward the 21st century, thus ushering in a new phase in their countries' relations.

Recent years has witnessed increasing mutual visits by leaders of the two countries, political dialogues and personal contacts.

Prime ministers and ministers of the two countries have exchanged visits frequently.

The efforts to promote ties have been resulted in cooperation that has reached its best in history in the fields of economy, education, culture and science and technology.

The total volume of two-way trade in 2003 amounted to 13.39 billion US dollars, 60.9 percent more than a year earlier, according to the General Customs Office of China.

Leading French companies, such as Alcatel, Alstom, Airbus and Carrefour, have seen their business booming in China.

In November 2003, French consumer electronics company Thomson scored high ratings from investors and analysts with its blockbuster deal to create the world's largest TV maker with TCL, China's largest TV producer.

French Economy Minister Francis Mer recently urged French entrepreneurs to be more efficient like their German rivals in the Chinese market. The call was believed to have given a new momentumto the economic cooperation between the two countries.

In regard to science and technology, the two nations have signed agreements on cooperation in fields such as exchanges in science and technology, environmental protection, development and peaceful use of atomic energy, health and medical science and research and peaceful use of space.

French and Chinese scientists and researchers have been brought closer with more than 700 joint projects and eight joint laboratories.

The exchanges in education have also made much headway with approximately 20,000 Chinese students studying in France and about120 pairs of universities and more than 20 couples of high schools from both countries having set up twinships. The agreement signed by the two countries on mutual recognition of diplomas will further boost the exchanges.

Culture and history have always held a very important position in exchanges between the two peoples, which are further pushed forward by the Culture Year jointly launched by China and France in 2003 to last till 2005.

Under the Culture Year program, from October 2003 to July 2004,the French public are invited to enjoy more than 300 events that will present, as comprehensively as possible, the immense cultural heritage of the Middle Kingdom.

France is becoming "very Chinese" this year, said France's Constitutional Council President Guena.

The Chinese people will then have their turn to admire the French civilization in The Culture Year of France from October 2004 to July 2005.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations and in celebration of the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, France paid tribute to the Chinese civilization by hosting a grand Chinese folklore parade along the Avenue of Champs-Elysees in the heart of Paris.

The Eiffel Tower, one of the great symbols of France, is draped with oriental decorations and lanterns this week.

"I believe that the cultural relations, manifested by the ongoing spectacles and exhibitions, constitute the easiest way to show the extraordinary diversity of each of the two civilizations," said Jean-Pierre Angremy, President of the Commission of the France-China Culture Year.

"The considerate undertaking will update the often simplistic and outdated perceptions that both have of the other's culture by making them aware of the richness and dynamism of their sciences, technologies and arts. The importance is much beyond culture itself," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2004)

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