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China, France forge ahead against all odds to achieve steady, sustained development of bilateral relations

By He Yin, People’s Daily French President Emmanuel Macron paid a state visit to China from April 5 to 7 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two heads of state had in-depth and high-quality exchanges over the two days in Beijing and Guangzhou, south China’s Guangdong province, which enhanced mutual understanding and mutual trust, and set the course for future cooperation between the two sides at the bilateral and international levels. China and France are permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, major countries with a tradition of independence, and firm advocates for a multi-polar world and for greater democracy in international relations. The two heads of state, maintaining close strategic communication, will not only elevate the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height, but also inject fresh impetus into China-EU relations and more stability and certainty to the volatile world. France is the first major Western power to establish official diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Guided by the founding spirit of China-France diplomatic relations as “independence, mutual understanding, foresight, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes,” China-France relations have been a pacesetter in China’s relations with major Western countries. Stability is a defining feature and valued asset of China-France relations. The two sides have worked together to maintain a positive and sound growth momentum in their bilateral ties over the recent years. The two sides have maintained high-frequency and high-quality strategic communication in a hybrid format. During Macron’s state visit to China, the two countries agreed to hold a new round of meetings under the three high-level mechanisms on strategic, economic and financial, and people-to-people dialogues within this year, and resume offline exchanges between legislatures and militaries as soon as possible. The two sides reiterated mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and core interests, and will promote China-France comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level. China and France share extensive common interests and see high complementarity. They have kept to the right direction of free trade and economic globalization, significantly enhancing the resilience and vitality of bilateral economic and trade cooperation. The two-way trade volume and mutual direct investment have grown steadily, cooperation on large projects has further deepened, and cooperation in emerging areas such as green consumption, green energy and scientific and technological innovation has continuously expanded. China supports French enterprises’ efforts in playing a greater role in the Chinese market by making effective use of such major opening-up platforms as the China International Import Expo, the China International Fair for Trade in Services, and the China International Consumer Products Expo. France clearly opposes decoupling and severing supply chains, and hopes to build more stable and open supply chains. The two heads of state witnessed the signing of a series of important bilateral agreements, which demonstrated the joint ambition of China and France to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. Business cooperation between China and France has not only boosted the economic development and improved people’s well-being of the two countries, but also helped foster greater confidence in and stabilized the expectation of the world economic recovery. China and France are representatives of Eastern and Western civilizations, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges remain important support for the development of bilateral relations. Having tea by the water, Xi and Macron enjoyed the view and discussed the past and present at the Pine Garden in Guangzhou. It pictured the exchanges and mutual learning between the Chinese and French civilizations. To protect and promote cultural diversity worldwide, China and France support the deepening of cooperation in the creation and utilization of cultural works and will work actively to resume their cooperation on culture and tourism. The year 2024 will mark the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations and the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, and France will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The two sides will take the opportunities to accelerate people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and bring China-France relations to a new level with rich and splendid cultural and sports activities. The world today is going through profound changes unseen in history. China and France have the ability and responsibility to rise above differences and obstacles, keep to the overall direction of a comprehensive strategic partnership that is stable, mutually beneficial, enterprising and dynamic, and practice true multilateralism for global peace, stability and prosperity. The two countries share the commitment to seeking constructive solutions based on international law to the challenges and threats against global security and stability. They believe that differences and disputes between countries should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and consultation, and seek to strengthen the international system with the UN at its core in a multi-polar world. Macron said France is committed to an independent foreign policy and to the strategic autonomy of Europe, and opposed to stoking confrontation, division and bloc rivalry. France will not pick sides. Instead, France calls for unity and cooperation to keep relations stable between major countries. He commended China’s important role in the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, saying France hopes to increase communication and make joint efforts with China toward peace. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. China and the EU, as two major forces in the multi-polar world, share broad strategic consensus and common interests, and enjoy a solid foundation for cooperation. China-EU cooperation has direct bearing on the prosperity of the Eurasian continent and the stability of the international landscape. China is willing to work with the EU to fully resume exchanges and dialogues at all levels and revitalize mutually-beneficial cooperation in various fields, thus injecting fresh impetus into China-EU relations and global peace, stability and prosperity. The French side said it is committed to promoting the further development of EU-China relations. China and France’s efforts to enhance coordination and cooperation at the China-EU level will strengthen the stability of China-EU ties and promote equal and mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and the EU, thus addressing global challenges. China and France are special friends and win-win partners. In the face of the volatile international situation and the risks and challenges in the post-pandemic era, the two countries will keep maintaining close communication at all levels, grasp historic opportunities, work together to tackle challenges, strengthen strategic mutual trust and promote long-term and stable bilateral ties, so as to make greater contributions to world peace, stability and prosperity.

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