China Youth Daily: Is Tibet the central issue in Sino-French ties?
Wu Jianmin: There are no conflicts of interest between China and France. The two countries established diplomatic relations 45 years ago, and bilateral ties have been continually improving. Tibet is not the most important question in our bilateral ties, although the two sides have conflicting opinions on the issue.
China postponed the 11th China-EU Summit because Sarkozy was holding the rotating six-month EU presidency. The delay was a blow to the French President because the meeting had been seen as an important opportunity for him to promote good relations between China and the European Union.
French should take responsibility for improving the strained bilateral ties. It must take steps to get the relationship back on track, since the dispute is not beneficial for either side. The two partners should strengthen cooperation especially in the fight against the global financial crisis.
China Youth Daily: How are relations between Beijing and Paris likely to develop?
Wu Jianmin: I think that bilateral ties will improve because there is no fundamental conflict of interest between the two countries. France was the first western country to establish diplomatic relations with China, which was itself an example of the courage and insight of the leadership of the both countries.
Generally speaking, Sino-French relations have developed smoothly since 1964. China and France have many common interests; on the economy, in international relations and so on. These are the most important issues for the two sides.
China Youth Daily: What is the most sensitive issue for the Sino-French relationship?
Wu Jianmin: I think it is Tibet; that was the reason China postponed the 11th China-EU Summit - to protest the planned meeting between Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama.
China Youth Daily: What hopes do you have for the young people in the two countries? Can bilateral ties be improved by strengthening youth exchange programs?
Wu Jianmin: I hope young people of the two countries will have closer contact, and that is also being promoted by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Many of the older generation of Chinese revolutionaries spent time in France, and were greatly influenced by French culture.
President Hu Jintao invited a group of French students to China when he visited France, and former French President Jacques Chirac invited 100 Chinese architects to France. Bilateral ties will definitely improve if the young people of the two countries come to understand each other better.
(China.org.cn by Yang Xi, February 20, 2009)