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Xi Jinping calls for China-France relations to 'forge ahead'

Li Jianhua in Dijon

 , Updated 21:04, 28-Jan-2024

President Xi Jinping says he wants China's relations with France to "forge ahead into the future" - as the presidents of both nations exchanged congratulatory messages on the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties. 

Both leaders emphasized the importance of global peace and security - with France's President Emmanuel Macron calling for "positive vitality" in taking "further steps" in cooperation - and president Xi highlighting the value of dialogue and international diplomacy over the last 60 years. 

In 1964, France became the first major western power to establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China.

Events are being held to mark the anniversary, with the Charles de Gaulle Memorial square, which pays tribute to the late French leader, a focal point for commemorations.

Xi Jinping and Emmanuel Macron in Paris in 2019. /CGTN
Xi Jinping and Emmanuel Macron in Paris in 2019. /CGTN

Xi Jinping and Emmanuel Macron in Paris in 2019. /CGTN

Dignitaries from both nations gathered to mark the occasion, including Lu Shaye, Chinese Ambassador to France. He told the audience: "Over recent decades, China and France have worked together on efforts to tackle global challenges. Not only has this contributed to the development of both nations and the well-being of both peoples - it has also promoted global multi-polarity and democratization of international relations."

‌In 1964 France became the first major Western country to officially establish diplomatic relations with Beijing - a development labeled a "diplomatic nuclear explosion" in Western media at the time.

Nicolas Lacroix, President of Charles de Gaulle Memorial, told listeners: "This ceremony, in the troubled period we are experiencing, helps to remember how visionary General de Gaulle was. Visionary because he understood before others that the independence of France, so much questioned today, could not be achieved without establishing diplomatic ties with powerful countries such as China."

Today China is France's third largest trading partner. Areas of common interest include the automotive industry, aviation, civilian nuclear energy and tackling global warming.

Most recently, China has implemented a 15-day visa free policy for France at the end of last year to boost cultural exchanges.

Today's close cooperation reflects what de Gaulle said when he recognized the People's Republich of China in 1964 - to the surprise of France's Western allies. At the time he justified this by what he called "the weight of evidence and reason."

‌This sentiment was echoed by Macron, with the French leader urging Europe to follow a policy of "strategic autonomy."

This is often seen as shorthand for maintaining good relations with China, rather than align too closely with the U.S. amid China-U.S. tensions.

Xi Jinping calls for China-France relations to 'forge ahead'

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