Speech by Tang Jiaxuan at the Seminar on China-France Relationship
（March 30, 2010, Beijing International Hotel）
Distinguished Mr. Hubert Védrine,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the Seminar on China-France Relationship and meet both old and new friends here. I’d like to avail myself of this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all of you present here for your long-term care and support for China-France relations.
This is the second time for me to attend the seminar on China-France relationship in the past one year and more. Last January, Mr. Raffarin and I attended the seminar on the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and France, where we were most concerned of how China-France relationship could get out of the twists and turns. Today, I’m very delighted to see that our bilateral relationship has recovered and continued to grow. We have so many people of vision and insight gathering here to discuss how to develop our bilateral relationship in the new era. I hope that we can have open and candid discussions and contribute our wisdom for the development of China-France and China-EU relations.
46 years ago, Chairman Mao Zedong and General de Gaulle, two strategists with great vision and foresight, decided to establish official diplomatic ties between our two countries. The historic decision, which transcended the divide of bi-polar system, was described by media as a political nuclear bomb, exerting profound and far-reaching impact on the world’s landscape.
With the concerted efforts of both sides over the past 46 years, our relationship withstood the tests of fluctuating international situation and witnessed many No.1s, e.g. the two countries were the earliest to start nuclear energy cooperation, the earliest to establish comprehensive partnership, the earliest to conduct strategic dialogue and the earliest to hold the cultural year events in China and Europe.
Over the past 46 years, China and France make remarkable achievements in economic and trade cooperation. At present there are more than 3,800 French enterprises investing and doing business in China and over 100 Chinese enterprises investing and doing business in France. Bilateral trade volume increased from more than USD100 million per year to more than USD100 million per day. Carrefour, Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and Tianjin Airbus A320 General Assembly Line have become important symbols of China-France cooperation.
Over the past 46 years, the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between our countries are getting increasingly active. The number of people travelling between the two countries increased from over 4,000 per year to over 4,000 per day. The Cultural Year of China, the Cultural Year of France, and youth exchange initiatives have generated significant influence in Europe and throughout the world.
However, the path of China-France relationship is not a smooth one. It suffered hardships and twists due to various reasons. But historical experience tells us that we can eliminate the interference of various complex situation and factors and propel the sustained, steady and healthy development of bilateral ties so long as we can always review and handle China-France relationship from a long-term and holistic perspective; we can transcend the difference in cultures, histories and ideologies and maintain the robust upward momentum of bilateral ties so long as we can always respect each other, treat each other as equals and give top priority to and properly handle issues of major interest and concerns to the other side; we can achieve more productive results in the exchange and cooperation in all areas so long as we can always adhere to the principle of mutual benefits, win-win results and common development; we can upgrade the comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level so long as we increase mutual trust and deepen cooperation.
The world is undergoing great transformation, changes and adjustment. China and France are also growing and evolving. We should look at and appreciate the development of each other from a dialectic view, discuss strategic issues in a constructive spirit and seek for common interest.
Since the founding of new China 60 years ago, especially since the reform and opening-up 3 decades ago, China has seen drastic changes. We have gone through the industrialization process in 60 years, which took 200 years in Europe. We enabled the 1.3 billion Chinese people to live a well-off life. These are obvious achievements that the long-suffering Chinese people take pride in.
However, we all know better than anyone else a basic fact, China is still a developing nation with a huge population, a weak foundation and unbalanced development. The per capita GDP of China ranks after the 100th in the world. The number of people in poverty ranks No. 2 in the world. We have a population of 84 million disabled people, nearly 20 million more than the entire population of France. The number of people living in absolute poverty exceeds 40 million. We have to create jobs for 24 million people each year. Everyday we have tens of thousands of people moving from villages to cities, from farmlands to factories, and from west to east. Such a large-scale social transformation is rarely seen in the world. The difficulties we are facing and trying to resolve are unimaginable and rarely encountered by any other countries. It is proper for me to say that the modernization path of China is merely the first step in the Long March.
History is the best teacher. It faithfully records the development path of each country and foretells the future to us. No matter how powerful China was in history, we had never chosen aggression and expansion as our policy options. From ancient times till today, the values of “harmony in diversity” and “don't do unto others what you don't want others do unto you” are always cherished by the Chinese people. Since the founding of new China 60 years ago, “peace” and “harmony” are always the essence of China's foreign policy. Hegemony runs against not only our cultural tradition but also the will of the Chinese people. The mindset and the strange historical circle of "power leading to hegemony" are not suitable for China.
History also tells us that the Chinese nation immensely cherishes sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. With regard to issues that relate to core interest of a country and a nation, our position was, is and will always be determined and resolute.
China is increasingly integrating into the international community and more closely linked with the outside world. China’s development will do no harm to the interest of any country; on the contrary, it will bring more opportunities for the world and make greater contributions to the development of the world. We actively participated in international cooperation in dealing with the financial crisis and promoted the establishment of the USD-120-billion Asian Foreign Exchange Reserve Pool. We adopted a series of major measures to deal with climate change and enabled the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change to achieve important results. We exempted the debts of 49 heavily indebted poor countries and least-developed nations and provided more-than-200-billion-yuan assistance for other developing nations. We actively participated in international peacekeeping missions and dispatched over 10,000-person-time personnel in 24 UN peacekeeping missions. Now there are still 2,100 Chinese peacekeepers doing peacekeeping missions. China is the one that send the most peacekeepers among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. China has proved with our own action that we are a positive force safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.
Mr. Deng Xiaoping once said, "Europe and Asia are physically one continent. You are in the west while we are in the east. The factors that bind us together are much more than people could imagine." In the eyes of the Chinese people, France is a country that led the global trend of thoughts and cultures and a country that made remarkable contributions to human civilization and social progress in history. In today's world, France is a developed country with economy and technology still at the forefront of the developed world. France is the core force to promote the European integration and a major European country with global influence. We have been looking at the progress and development of France and other European countries in a respectful and friendly view.
China-France relations boast solid strategic, political, economic and cultural foundation. As permanent members in the UN Security Council, China and France share common or similar views on many major international and regional issues and both shoulder important responsibilities in international affairs. In the context that the current international situation is undergoing the most profound and complicated changes after the Cold War, China-France relations should consolidate stability, enhance strategic significance, remain innovative and continue to walk in the forefront of the times.
New situation, new opportunities, and new challenges again require us to grasp the historical opportunity. In the times when the international situation is experiencing profound changes, we need to further strengthen consultation and coordination on major issues of strategic importance such as the reform of international governance system and the international financial system, and jointly cope with the current international financial crisis and other increasingly prominent global challenges such as climate change, environment, and energy security; we need to work together to promote the establishment of a fair, rational and balanced world order and jointly promote the building of a harmonious world featuring lasting peace and common prosperity.
This year China and France will have a series of high-level visits. Bilateral relations are facing important opportunities. We hope that both sides have a long-term vision, seize opportunities, strengthen cooperation and continue to inject new impetus to the in-depth development of bilateral relations. We also hope that France, as an important member of the European Union, can continue to play an active role within the EU in promoting greater development of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.
The holding of the seminar provides an important opportunity for the academics and opinion-makers of the two countries to strengthen exchange and dialogue. I hope that the two sides can put forward constructive suggestions and provide useful advice for the decision-making departments of the two countries so as to increase mutual knowledge and understanding of the public. I also hope that friends from France can go out to see and feel what today's Chinese people are thinking, what we are doing, and what issues we are most concerned of. This will help you gain a comprehensive understanding of the constantly developing and changing China and then introduce the real China to more French friends.
Wish the Seminar on China-France Relationship a complete success.
Thank you for your attention.