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Sino-French ties on right path
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The year of 2007 has been a year of great significance to both the Chinese and French political scene.


While Nicolas Sarkozy, a reformist, was elected as president of the Republic of France in May, with an ambitious program of modernization in all fields of French society, the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which was convened last month, has produced a younger generation of Chinese leaders with Hu Jintao as the core.


This new Chinese leadership lineup, which has more open and deep understanding of the world situation, is conducive to enhancing the ties between China and the world, Sino-French relations included.


The policy of deepening the reform and opening up adopted at the Congress, as well as the call for peaceful development in the Taiwan Straits, will benefit the Chinese and world economy and so will help develop Sino-French trade.


The friendly relation between France and China has a long history.


In 1997, then French President Jacques Chirac paid a visit to China. The two heads of state signed the Sino-French Joint Communique dedicating themselves to building a full-round partnership toward the 21st Century. France is the first Western country to do so.


France was also the first big power in the West to establish diplomatic ties with China in 1964.


Both France and China have developed from traditional agrarian countries and the two peoples are keen on seeking the happiness of life: it is thus natural that both the French and the Chinese hold feelings of affinity for each other.


France regards China's development as an opportunity rather than a threat. It is happy to see China achieving even greater feats, and wishes to further advance economic and trade ties and strengthen science, culture and diplomatic exchanges with China.


For two countries that have different histories and cultural traditions, it is inevitable that there will be differences, as new problems crop up as bilateral relations become closer and closer.


These differences, however, are often trivial obstacles in Sino-French relations and should not hamper exchanges between the two countries.


Just as President Hu pointed out, the Sino-French relationship is a model for countries that have diverse history, cultural traditions and are in different stages of development to develop friendly and amicable relations.


France is looking forward to having in-depth discussions and exchanges with China in areas ranging from trade, environment and intellectual property to press freedom, seeking to find appropriate solutions to these issues.


The Sino-French relations in 2007 have been geared to more rationality and pragmatism.


The bilateral trade, which mainly concentrates in nuclear, aerospace, communications and telecom sectors, is booming.


France has become Europe's biggest market for Chinese culture and the number of French people studying Chinese has increased dramatically over the past decade.


On the other hand, the number of Chinese students going to France in 2006 exceeded 8,500.


France is opening a consulate this month in Shenyang in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.


In the education field, France is planning to set up a new French international school in Beijing and a Sino-French social science research center in Tsinghua University.


All these testify that Sino-French relations have maintained sound momentum this year.


France will take over the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2008, during which it is planning to put Sino-European relations on the high agenda, which is a move that is set to further advance Sino-French ties.


In conclusion, the common interests between France and China far exceed the differences that they may encounter in their bilateral relations.


The two countries can and should overcome these differences and continue to build deeper understanding of each other on the basis of mutual trust.


Sino-French relation is set to serve a more prosperous, harmonious and united world in 2008.


The author is minister counselor at the French embassy in China


(China Daily November 23, 2007)

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