One of "intimacy" is how he describes France's relationship with
China. The two countries have never had major disagreements in the
past, he says. And the future is bound to throw up a lot of things
to bring them even closer.
Talking about the future brings French ambassador Herve Ladsous
to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It will be grand spectacle, he
says. "I think it's going to be a marvelous success. We know that a
lot of work has been done in terms of construction of venues and
Ladsous is not interested in the talk of boycott that props up
now and then because that "will never be a policy of the French
"On the contrary," he says, "2008 will be a major opportunity
for China to meet the world (at home) and achieve great
That will be a special occasion for France, too, because it was
the first country with which China sealed a comprehensive strategic
partnership. That partnership has continued exceedingly well for a
decade now. In fact, it has reached a point where "we can use the
term intimacy" to describe it, says the 57-year-old ambassador.
"Intimacy means we have confidence in each other, we have equal
understanding," says Ladsous, who loves to use Chinese words and
phrases during his interview, which essentially is in English.
Actually, he can speak Putonghua quite well, and has plans to take
lessons to improve his Chinese. Besides, he can speak German,
Spanish and a little bit of Arabic, too.
Thanks to "equal understanding", a high-level bilateral meeting
has already been held, he says, referring to the first meeting
between President Hu Jintao and French President Nicolas Sarkozy
during the recent G8 summit in Germany. President Sarkozy is
certain about one thing: China is a central player in many of the
world issues today, Ladsous says.
China has been there for "us irrespective of the issues or
questions" so it is our natural partner. "You should realize that
President Sarkozy symbolizes a new generation of people in power -
those who were not born before or during World War II - so his
vision is very modern, very 21st century."
"For him (Sarkozy), China is a key element and an indispensable
partner (that can help) to find solutions to some of the major
issues facing the world. (That's why) Sarkozy wants to consolidate
the partnership with China. Today's world is a difficult world, it
is full of crises. Some are global, some regional, and we have to
work together to resolve them."
As permanent United Nations Security Council members, both
countries have special duties and responsibilities, Ladsous says.
"We have to work together", keep one another fully informed and
discuss regularly ways to deal with world issues such as
anti-terrorism, the Iran and Korean Peninsula nuclear issues,
crises in Africa and the Middle East, and the problems facing
The cultural exchanges between China and France are two
centuries' old, he says. Which means the bond is old enough for the
two countries to work together to resolve major global issues,
especially because they agree on ways to deal with a lot of
"In the 18th century when contacts (between the two countries)
were very few, the French had a dream image about China (and they
were right). Many artists in France, a hundred or more years ago,
were deeply influenced by Chinese art." Chinese music and painting
have always fascinated the French.
Having worked in China for more than two decades, from political
counselor in the French embassy in Beijing to deputy consul in Hong
Kong, Ladsous has been closely following the country's
And what has his impression been? "It's interesting to see China
become so much more transparent," he says. "When I compare it to 20
years ago when I was (first) here, it's very different."
Ladsous still remembers how Chinese culture was presented in his
country in 2004, when lights were used to literally paint the
Eiffel Tower red to celebrate the "Year of China" in France. The
two countries are willing to increase cultural exchanges. It's
important to protect one's culture because only then can "we
maintain cultural diversity" in the world.
"I was in Paris at that time (in 2004). Hundreds of thousands of
people had turned up to watch the huge and colorful parade on
Champs Elyses. It reflected the depth of friendship between our
societies and our peoples." A photo of the Eiffel Tower,
illuminated red, hangs on the wall outside the French Embassy
office in Beijing.
"I put it here so that every one who visits my office sees it
because it is a symbol of our friendship," he says.
Ladsous' fascination with Asia, particularly China, started as a
child. He began studying Chinese and Malay when he was a law
student at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Culture
in Paris. "I worked in the French embassy in China more than 20
years ago. After that, I started moving around the world." Ladsous
has been France's ambassador to Indonesia, too.
"What interests me most is Chinese history. It is fascinating
because of its continuity. century after century after century," he
says. Many Chinese people think Paris is one of the most romantic
and artistic cities in the world. But Ladsous has found those
artistic and romantic elements in Beijing, too.
"I love Beijing. The modernization of the city is tremendous,
but there still are many old buildings, beautiful gardens and
museums," he says. "I love Chinese contemporary art, especially
modern art," says the ambassador, who frequently visits Beijing's
famous 798 Arts Zone.
With such a lover of Chinese history and culture in charge of
French diplomatic affairs in China, one can only expect bilateral
ties to blossom.
(China Daily via agencies July 6, 2007)