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
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
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
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
These differences, however, are often trivial obstacles in
Sino-French relations and should not hamper exchanges between the
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
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 Daily November 23, 2007)