China, France blueprint future ties

Xinhua, March 27, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, held talks on Wednesday to blueprint the future relationship between the two countries.

Xi said Wednesday's meeting was of great significance for the China-France relationship as it will "carry forward the undertakings of the predecessors and open up a new road for future."

"We should draw a blueprint and lay a solid foundation for the China-France relationship to develop at a higher level in the future, and work together to open up a new era featuring a close and lasting comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries," said the Chinese president.

Xi proposed that the two sides always regard each other as a strategic partner with priority, enhance mutual trust, support each other's ideas and path of development, and respect each other's core interests and major concerns.

He said the two heads of state should meet annually and interact frequently, and that the bilateral mechanisms, including strategic dialogue and high-level economic and financial dialogue, should be used to elevate the strategic communication and cooperation between the two countries.

The two countries should grasp new opportunities emerging from their respective structural reform to boost their pragmatic cooperation, said the Chinese president.

Xi suggested the two sides set up joint ventures on research and development, investment, production, and to develop third-country markets to inject new momentum into nuclear energy, aviation and other traditional sectors of cooperation, as well as open up new areas of cooperation, such as agriculture, finance, sustainable urban development, medicine and health care, and marine resources.

"(We) should stick to the policy of opening up and work together to oppose protectionism," Xi said.

The Chinese president pledged to increase imports of agricultural products from France and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in the European country. He also expressed hope that the French side would urge the European Union (EU) to entirely resolve the issue on wireless telecommunications equipments.

Xi said the two countries should also strengthen people-to-people exchanges, highlighting celebrations on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the China-France diplomatic ties and increasing the number of international students sent to each other.

Xi expected travelers between the two countries to reach 1.2 million by 2016.

"(The two countries) should set up a high-level mechanism for cultural and people-to-people exchanges and make it the third pillar of China-France cooperation (besides the political and economic mechanism)," said the Chinese leader.

Meanwhile, Xi suggested the two countries boost cooperation in international and regional affairs, and make joint efforts to reform the global system of economic governance and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the world.

China will back France's efforts to host the global climate change conference in 2015, Xi said.

For his part, Hollande said China and France share the same view on the world, both following an independent foreign policy and upholding adherence to widely-recognized norms of international relations.

The France-China relationship plays an important role in promoting the global balance of power and safeguarding world peace and stability, said the French president.

Hailing the current smooth development of bilateral ties, Hollande said the French side is firmly committed to developing a close and lasting comprehensive strategic partnership with China.

Echoing Xi's proposals, Hollande said the French side stands ready to keep close high-level contact, deepen political dialogue, boost all-round cooperation and increase communication and coordination in international and regional affairs with the Chinese side.

Hollande condemned the terror attack that happened in China's southern city of Kunming earlier this month and pledged to boost cooperation with the Chinese side to fight terrorism.

The two sides also exchanged views on Ukraine, Syria and the Iranian nuclear issue.

After their talks, the two sides released a joint statement and a mid- and long-term vision for China-France relations.

The two heads of state also witnessed the signing of several cooperation deals, covering such areas as economy and trade, nuclear energy, space and aviation, industry, automobile, energy, finance, agriculture, sustainable development, technology and quality inspection.

At a press conference following their meeting, Xi said that the historical handshake between China and France 50 years ago was a notable chapter in international relations and East-West exchange.

"That historical moment showcases the spirit of mutual respect and trust, equal treatment, openness and inclusiveness and mutual benefit, which is still very relevant today," said Xi.

The Chinese president said he and his French counterpart have jointly planned the direction and focus of future bilateral relations, vowing to set their ties a priority in their respective foreign policy.

"We need to work together and innovate to continue to lead future development of China's ties with the EU and Western countries," said Xi, adding that he is very confident about the future growth of China-France friendship.

Hollande, for his part, said the decision to grow a close and lasting comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries marks a new milestone in France-China relations.

He noted that the various consensus and agreements reached between the two leaders will consolidate the three pillars of political, economic, and people-to-people mechanism of bilateral cooperation and open up broader prospect for future ties.

Xi is making a state visit to France at Hollande's invitation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-France diplomatic ties and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of their comprehensive strategic partnership.

During the visit, Xi will also attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties and meet with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and parliamentary leaders.