In 2013, bilateral relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of France made fresh progress. The two countries had frequent high-level exchanges, stronger business cooperation, expanding cultural and people-to-people exchanges and close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues.
The two countries maintained frequent high-level exchanges. The French president and prime minister visited China within the same calendar year for the first time. Leaders of the two countries stayed in close communication on bilateral relations and international and regional hotspot issues through telephone conversations and exchanges of correspondence.
On 15 March, President Xi Jinping and French President François Hollande spoke on the phone. President Hollande congratulated President Xi on taking office and the two leaders had an extensive exchange of views on China-France and China-EU relations.
From 25 to 26 April, French President Hollande paid a state visit to China. President Xi held talks with him and Premier Li Keqiang and NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang met with him separately. The two presidents reached important agreement on the future growth of bilateral relations and decided to advance the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership on the basis of mutual respect and win-win cooperation. The two sides issued the China-France Joint Press Communiqué―Build Together a World of Peace, Democracy, Prosperity and Progress and signed 18 cooperation agreements on nuclear energy, aviation, urbanization, agriculture, food, energy conservation, environmental protection, sustainable development of cities, health and digitalization. The two presidents also addressed the closing ceremony of the China-France Business Forum.
From 5 to 9 December, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault paid an official visit to China. Premier Li Keqiang held talks with him, and they had an in-depth exchange of views and reached extensive agreement on bilateral relations, practical cooperation, China-EU relations and international and regional situation. President Xi Jinping, NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang and Vice Premier Ma Kai met with Prime Minister Ayrault separately.
On 7 to 8 January, French Minister of Economy and Finance Pierre Moscovici visited China and Premier Li met with him. On 6 September, State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with French President's Diplomatic Advisor Paul Jean-Ortiz in St. Petersburg when he accompanied President Xi for the G20 Summit. They held consultations on the Syrian situation and other international and regional hotspot issues.
The two foreign ministries had close interactions. Chinese and French foreign ministers met six times and talked on the phone three times within the year for in-depth communication and coordination on bilateral relations and international and regional hotspot issues. On 25 January, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his French counterpart Laurant Fabius exchanged views on the phone on bilateral relations and the Mali issue. On 18 March, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and French Foreign Minister Fabius had a phone conversation for an extensive exchange of views on bilateral relations. On 12 to 13 April, French Foreign Minister Fabius paid an official visit to China. President Xi Jinping and State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with him and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with him. On 26 April, Foreign Minister Wang met with French Foreign Minister Fabius who was accompanying French President Hollande on his China visit. On 30 August, Foreign Minister Wang and French Foreign Minister Fabius discussed the Syrian situation on the phone. On 15 September, French Foreign Minister Fabius visited China and Foreign Minister Wang held talks with him. On 24 September, Foreign Minister Wang met with French Foreign Minister Fabius on the sidelines of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. From 30 October to 1 November, Foreign Minister Wang paid an official visit to France, during which he met with French President Hollande and former President Jacques Chirac respectively and held talks with French Foreign Minister Fabius. On 23 November, Foreign Minister Wang met with his French counterpart Fabius on the sidelines of the Dialogue between the P5+1 and Iran on the Iranian nuclear issue.
In addition, on 16 January, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun and French President's Diplomatic Advisor Paul Jean-Ortiz talked on the phone for an exchange of views on the situation in Mali. On 24 January, Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao met with visiting French Foreign Minister's Special Representative for China Affairs Martine Aubry. In 2013, the two foreign ministries held consultations on West Asian and North African affairs, arms control and non-proliferation, development and consular affairs.
Business cooperation between China and France was further elevated. Impacted by the European debt issue, two-way trade suffered a slight drop in 2013, but stayed roughly unchanged in its overall size and grew more balanced in structure. In January, the 21st meeting of the Joint Committee of China-France Trade and Economic Cooperation was held in Beijing. Mutual investment registered a steady increase, with French investment to China increasing remarkably. From 25 to 26 November, Vice Premier Ma Kai and French Minister for the Economy and Finance Pierre Moscovici cochaired the first China-France High-level Economic and Financial Dialogue and the two sides issued the Joint Statement of the First China-France High-level Economic and Financial Dialogue. Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli met with Minister Moscovici. Cooperation on nuclear power, aviation and other traditional major projects made smooth progress and that in finance, industry and agriculture advanced continuously. On 6 December, Vice Premier Ma Kai and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault attended the activities marking the 30th anniversary of China-France cooperation in nuclear energy. New achievements were made in civil nuclear energy cooperation for third-party market. From 2 to 6 December, Deputy Speaker of the French Senate and former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin attended the 19th China-France Economic Seminar and Vice Premier Ma Kai met with him.
Cultural and people-to-people exchanges kept expanding. Celebrations for the 50th anniversary of China-France diplomatic ties were successfully launched. On 6 December, Premier Li Keqiang and French Prime Minister Ayrault unveiled the logo for the 50th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations. A website dedicated to the 50th anniversary was opened. In January, the Chinese Language Year in France was closed in Paris. In June, France returned two bronze animal heads of the Old Summer Palace to China. In September, China's Confucius Institute in French Polynesia was officially opened. New progress was made in health and scientific exchanges between the two countries. From 22 to 23 May, Minister for National Health and Family Planning Commission Li Bin visited France and signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Health Cooperation with the French side. From 3 to 4 July, President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Zhou Ji visited France and signed a cooperation agreement with the French National Academy of Medicine.
There were dynamic exchanges between political parties, legislatures, militaries and at the local level of the two countries. On 23 January, Minister of the CPC International Department Wang Jiarui met with Martine Aubry, French Foreign Minister's Special Representative for China Affairs and former First Secretary of the Socialist Party. In July, Vice Chairman of the Union for a Popular Movement Thierry Mariani visited China.
In September, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly Elisabeth Guigou led a delegation of parliamentarians to visit China. In June and November, the third meeting of the regular inter-parliamentary exchange mechanism between the NPC and the French Senate and the fourth meeting of the regular inter-parliamentary exchange mechanism between the NPC and the French National Assembly were held in France and China respectively. In October, Deputy Speaker of the French Senate and former Prime Minister Raffarin headed a delegation of young parliamentarians to China and State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with him.
In January, the ninth meeting of China-France Headquarters of the General Staff was held in Beijing. From 22 to 24 September, Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief of the PLA General Staff, visited France and co-chaired the 12th China-France Strategic Dialogue with Corps General of Air Force Gratien Maire, French Deputy Chief of Staff. In April, the 13th escort fleet of the Chinese navy visited Toulon, France, and the frigate Vendemiaire of the French navy visited Shanghai.
On 31 May, the eighth Roundtable of Chinese and French Mayors was held in Yangzhou. From 24 to 30 December, President of French Polynesia Gaston Flosse visited China and Vice President Li Yuanchao met with him.
By the end of 2013, there were 86 pairs of sister cities and provinces/ regions between China and France.