The year 2010 saw further progress in the relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of France. The heads of state and parliamentary leaders of the two sides exchanged visits within the year for the first time in history, and reached important agreement on building a mature and stable comprehensive strategic partnership oriented to the world based on mutual trust and mutual benefit. The two sides stressed the importance of working together to keep the unique feature of their relationship of being strategic and adaptive to the times with a global perspective and building it into a new type of equal and cooperative relationship between two major states, thus contributing to peace, development and cooperation in the 21st century.
Bilateral high-level exchanges were close. President Hu Jintao, during his state visit to France from 4 to 6 November, held large group and closed-door talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy, met with Prime Minister Francois Fillon and former President Jacques Chirac. They reached broad agreement on promoting high-level exchanges, enhancing political mutual trust, deepening practical cooperation, strengthening China-Europe relations and intensifying coordination and cooperation on global and international issues. From 7 to 14 July, NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo visited France during which he held talks with National Assembly President Bernard Accoyer and met with President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Senate President Gerard Larcher and exchanged views with them on bilateral relations and inter-parliamentary exchanges and cooperation. From 1 to 2 April, CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin made a stopover in Reunion Province of France and met with Governor Michel Lalande. From 28 to 30 April, President Sarkozy paid a state visit to China and attended the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo. He held talks with President Hu Jintao and met with NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao. He toured the France Pavilion at the Expo site with the accompany of Vice Premier Wang Qishan. From 20 to 21 June, National Assembly President Bernard Accoyer came to China for the National Pavilion Day of France at the World Expo, and NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo met with him in Beijing.
China and France intensified communication and coordination on global governance, the G-20, the Iranian nuclear issue, the Korean nuclear issue, Darfur, and other major global and regional hot-spot issues. From 2 to 5 February, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited France where he met with President Sarkozy and former President Jacques Chirac, held talks with Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and delivered a speech at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI). On 9 September, Director General of the MFA Policy Planning Department Le Yucheng attended the bilateral foreign policy consultations in France. From 25 to 26 September, Diplomatic Advisor to the French President Jean-David Levitte came to China for consultations. Vice Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Dai Bingguo met and held talks with him separately.
Economic cooperation and trade deepened. The bilateral trade picked up steadily and two-way investment further increased. The Ministry of Commerce of China and the Ministry of Economy and Industry of France held a bilateral high-level business forum in France with the participation of over 300 companies and NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo delivered an important speech at its opening session. During President Hu Jintao's visit to France, the two sides signed a host of intergovernmental agreements and important commercial documents in energy conservation, environmental protection, aviation, nuclear energy, telecommunications, new energy and other areas, and held the China-France investment promotion fair.
Parliamentary, party-to-party and sub-national level exchanges were active. NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo and National Assembly President Accoyer exchanged visits within one month. The first meeting of the China-France Parliamentary Cooperation Committee was held in France in July, officially launching the regular parliamentary exchange mechanism between the two sides. In August, the France-China friendship group of the French parliament visited China and NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo met with the delegation.
In April, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee Liu Jieyi met in Beijing with Xavier Bertrand, Secretary-General of the UMP, the French ruling party, who accompanied President Sarkozy on his China visit. In November, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee Li Jinjun visited France and met with leaders of major political parties of France. In December, former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Rafarin and UMP Secretary-General Jean-Francois Cope visited China, and met with Member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Li Changchun and Vice Premier Li Keqiang separately.
From 18 to 19 June, the 3rd China-France high-level forum on local government cooperation was held in Nanjing. NPC Vice Chairperson Uyunqimg, President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries Chen Haosu and over 500 delegates from nearly 100 local governments, companies and media organizations from China and France attended the forum. By the end of 2010, the two countries had had 66 pairs of sister cities and provinces.
Bilateral cultural and people-to-people exchanges were dynamic. On 30 March, the first seminar on China-France relations was held in China. Chinese former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, French former Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and delegates from government, academia and business communities of the two countries attended the seminar. From 16 to 18 October, Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying attended the 3rd World Policy Conference held by IFRI in Morocco. Minister of Culture Cai Wu and French Minster of Culture Frederic Mitterrand met twice in the year and exchanged views on strengthening bilateral exchanges and cooperation in cultural heritage protection, artistic creation, cultural management, cultural industry and other realms. In November, the Palace Museum and the Louvre Museum signed their 2nd five-year cooperation agreement. During the Shanghai World Expo, France sent over 10 prominent art troupes to China to perform at the France Pavilion and three regional pavilions. In 2010, there were about 35,000 Chinese students in France and around 5,000 French students in China. In France, nearly 500 high and primary schools offered Chinese language courses, over 150 universities had Chinese language core or elective courses, and around 44,000 students were learning Chinese. The Chinese language jumped to the 5th place in the foreign language teaching in the French education system.
President Hu Jintao's Visit to France
At the invitation of President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to France from 4 to 6 November 2010. During the visit, President Hu Jintao had several meetings with President Sarkozy, met with Prime Minister Fillon, Senate President Larcher, National Assembly President Accoyer and former President Chirac, engaged widely with all sectors of the two countries, attended the signing ceremony of cooperation documents and visited relevant commercial projects. Before the visit, President Hu Jintao gave a written interview to Le Figaro and answered questions regarding China-France relations, China-EU relations, the G20 Seoul Summit, China's development path and direction, and the international order in the 21st century.
In his talks with President Sarkozy, President Hu Jintao spoke positively of the progress in China-France relations and stressed that in the context of profound and complex changes in the international landscape, China wanted to give new substance to its relationship with France, and build it into a mature and stable comprehensive strategic partnership oriented to the world based on mutual trust and mutual benefit, which would help forge equal partnerships between major countries under new circumstances. President Hu Jintao made a four-point proposal. First, respect each other and deepen strategic mutual trust. The two sides should deepen mutual understanding through high-level mutual visits and intergovernmental, parliamentary, party-to-party and local exchanges, respect each other's core interests and major concerns while bearing in mind common interests, promote cooperation across the board, appropriately handle differences and seek sustained and steady growth of bilateral relations. Second, keep up with the changes of the times and innovate models of practical cooperation. The two sides should expand bilateral trade with a goal of reaching 80 billion US dollars in 2015, and further encourage two-way investment by providing a more convenient and attractive investment environment to each other. At the same time, efforts should be made to boost cooperation in nuclear power and aviation, unleash cooperation potential in energy efficiency, environmental protection, new energy, new material, electric vehicle, information and communications, high-end equipment manufacturing and finance, and develop new drivers of cooperation to transform and upgrade the bilateral business ties and reinforce the economic foundation of China-France relations. Third, give play to the respective strengths of the two sides and promote close cultural and people-to-people exchanges. China and France should encourage their cultural entities to participate in each other's cultural activities, support a long-term, solid partnership between the Palace Museum and the Louvre Museum, and strengthen exchanges and cooperation in film, press and other fields. The two sides should expand the size of student exchange, build partnerships between their universities and high schools, promote each other's languages in their own countries and strengthen youth exchanges to inject new vitality into China-Europe youth exchanges. Fourth, strengthen coordination and tackle challenges together. China stood ready to keep close communication and coordination with France on global issues and international and regional hot spot issues, including the reform of global economic governance mechanism and climate change. With France taking over the G-20 chairmanship, China was ready to maintain communication with France on advancing G-20 cooperation.
President Sarkozy fully agreed with President Hu Jintao on his important views on taking forward the bilateral ties. He said that bilateral practical cooperation was in good shape across the board, as exemplified by aviation and space cooperation. France was ready to strengthen business and technological cooperation and deepen nuclear power cooperation in an all-round way with China. There were over 30,000 Chinese students in France, making China one of the largest sources of international students in France. France stood firmly for the lift of EU arms embargo against China. France recognized China's indispensible role in the world affairs and was willing to enhance coordination and cooperation with China in international affairs. During its G-20 chairmanship, France would strengthen communication and cooperation with China.
On 4 November, the two presidents released a joint statement on strengthening the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership, showing the commitment of the two countries to further develop bilateral relations and the important agreement they reached on international situation, relations among major countries, global governance and other issues.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's Visit to China
At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President Nicolas Sarkozy paid a state visit to China from 28 to 30 April 2010 and attended the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo. President Hu and President Sarkozy held talks and met with the press together. NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao met with him separately, and Vice Premier Wang Qishan accompanied him on his tour of the France Pavilion at the World Expo.
During the talks, President Hu Jintao stated that China and France both pursued an independent foreign policy of peace, and had common views on and shared interests in promoting multipolarity and democracy in international relations. China hoped to work together with France in the following four areas to lift the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level. First, maintain high-level exchanges, dialogue and consultations. Leaders of the two countries should keep in close touch through multiple channels. The two sides should make the most of the strategic dialogue mechanism for timely communication on major issues of each other's concern. Second, advance practical cooperation. The two sides should strengthen exchanges on the transformation of economic growth pattern, and while ensuring effective cooperation in conventional areas, move forward cooperation in energy conservation, environmental protection, new energy, agriculture and agricultural product processing, and cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises. They should seek new ways of cooperation for steady, mutually-beneficial and common development in the long term. Third, enrich cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The two sides should continue to hold cultural events in each other's country, expand the size of student exchange, strengthen the teaching of each other's languages in their own countries, encourage two-way tourism and local exchanges, support dialogues between media and think tanks to solidify the public support for the friendship between China and France. Fourth, work together to tackle global and regional challenges. The two sides should intensify consultations on global issues, including the reform of international financial architecture, improvement of global economic governance structure and climate change and regional hot-spot issues, strengthen policy coordination, stick to political and diplomatic solutions to disputes, and act together to build a peaceful and stable international environment. China was highly appreciative of the EU's important role in international affairs and France's constructive position on promoting China-EU relations.
President Sarkozy said that China is a very important strategic partner of France and the two sides should cooperate closely on propelling economic growth, global governance, tackling climate change, upholding world peace and other major global issues. As France saw it, there was only one China in the world and Taiwan and Tibet were parts of China. This was a policy France had pursued since the establishment of its diplomatic ties with China in 1964, and there was no change to this policy. France stood ready to work with China to further unlock the potential and strengthen and expand cooperation and exchanges on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, aviation, transport, environmental protection, finance, agriculture and cultural and people-to-people interaction. With its G-20 chairmanship taking effect in November 2010, France was ready to cooperate with China closely for a successful G-20 Summit in 2011.