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Toast by H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China At the Welcoming Banquet  Hosted by H.E. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic

2024-05-07 14:22

Your Excellency President Emmanuel Macron and Mrs. Brigitte Macron,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Dear Friends,

It is such a pleasure to once again visit the beautiful French Republic. On behalf of my wife and the Chinese delegation, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to you, Mr. President, Mrs. Macron and the French side for your gracious hospitality.

France is a country of fascination. It is home to Montesquieu, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and many other thinkers and literary giants who have made far-reaching impact on human progress. The initiators of many famous international sporting events, such as the modern Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, and the European Championship, are also French. The Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games will open in about two months. I believe it will be nothing short of spectacular.

I often say that China and France are special friends, and the China-France relationship is a special relationship among major countries in the world. 

It is special in that both countries are committed to the spirit of independence. My visit coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China-France diplomatic relations. Six decades ago, General Charles de Gaulle made the decision to establish diplomatic relations with New China at the ambassadorial level, which was indeed not easy against the backdrop of the Cold War. Six decades on, despite the shifting dynamics on the international landscape, generations of Chinese and French leaders have viewed and approached this relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective. The French president was the first Western head of state to visit New China, and France was the first Western country that hosted the official visit by a leader of New China. These highlights in China-France interactions are all attributed to our countries’ commitment to the spirit of independence, which should be cherished and carried forward.

The China-France relationship is special in that we appreciate each other. Representing Eastern and Western civilizations, China and France have a fine tradition of mutual appreciation and mutual attraction. Five years ago, President Macron gave me a copy of the French version of Confucius, or the Science of Princes first published in 1688, and noted how the thinking of Confucius profoundly influenced people like Voltaire and inspired the French Enlightenment. I would say that the Work-Study Movement of Chinese students in France early last century helped cultivate a contingent of talent for the revolution, development and reform in China afterwards. This year is designated as the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism. I am sure that the two countries can use it as an opportunity to draw wisdom and nourishment from each other’s culture.

The China-France relationship is special in that we both have a strong sense of responsibility. History has proved time and again that, China and France can work together for the betterment of the world. The world today is experiencing changes and turbulence. The Ukraine crisis and Palestinian-Israeli conflict continue unabated. Economic recovery lacks momentum. Global challenges such as climate change are becoming tougher to tackle. Both being permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and France are duty-bound to shoulder greater responsibilities. This afternoon, President Macron and I had an in-depth exchange of views on China’s relations with France and Europe and on international developments. We agreed to stay true to our countries’ original aspiration when forging the diplomatic relations six decades ago, deepen the high-level mutual trust and cooperation, and strengthen communication and coordination on major international issues, to jointly inject hope into a confused world and explore the way forward for human progress.

As Montaigne aptly observed, “Friendship is nourished by communication.” More interactions and more exchanges will build more consensus. I am sure that with a fine tradition from the past, a good foundation of the present, and a blueprint for the future, the China-France relationship will embrace a spring of bloom and boom.

Now may I propose a toast:

To the prosperity of the French Republic and happiness of its people;

To the everlasting friendship between our countries and peoples; and

To the health of President and Mrs. Macron and all friends present.

Cheers!

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