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Speech by H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China at the Meeting Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-France Diplomatic Relations

2014/03/27

Paris, 27 March 2014

Your Excellency President François Hollande,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to be with you in the beautiful city of Paris in the lovely spring to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-France diplomatic ties. At the outset, I wish to extend, on behalf of the government and people of China and in my own name, our sincere greetings and best wishes to you and, through you, to the people in all walks of life who have long endeavored to promote friendship with China and to the friendly people of France.

China-France relationship is at an important juncture of building on past achievements to make new progress. I am visiting France, bringing with me a fond memory of the growth of China-France friendship and a keen desire to deepen our comprehensive strategic partnership from the government and people of China.

As a Chinese proverb goes, “When drinking water, one should never forget those who dug the well.” As we are meeting here, we cannot but think of two great men. Fifty years ago, at the height of the Cold War between the East and the West, with extraordinary strategic vision, Chairman Mao Zedong and General Charles de Gaulle courageously made the historic decision to establish full diplomatic relations between China and France, thus opening the door to mutual understanding and exchanges not only between China and France, but also between China and the Western world. Ever since then, China-France relationship has become a special one among major-country relationships in the world, and it has always been at the forefront of China’s relations with major developed countries in the West.

Over the past 50 years, our two countries and peoples have followed the principle of independence, mutual understanding, strategic vision and win-win cooperation in growing our bilateral ties, a principle that will continue to guide us in steering this relationship toward an even brighter future.

— Independence is a national trait of both the Chinese and the French nations. Both China and France have ancient histories and distinctive civilizations. Over a long period in history, our two great nations, nourished by our respective mother rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River and the Loire and the Rhône, set the pace of the development of civilization in our respective regions. The one hundred schools of thoughts represented by ancient Chinese philosophers such as Laozi, Confucius, Mozi, Mencius and Zhuangzi have remained culturally important for the world today; and the renowned French thinkers also contributed enormously to the intellectual advancement of mankind. In modern times, both China and France were once subjected to national subjugation and suffered from wars. We made strenuous efforts to explore the right development model and succeeded in embarking on development paths suited to our national conditions. Both China and France pursue an independent foreign policy instead of taking cues from others. And we both champion multilateralism, multi-polarity and democracy in international relations.

— Mutual understanding is a cornerstone underpinning the growth of China-France relationship. Fifty years ago, General Charles de Gaulle said that given the profound admiration and respect between the Chinese and French nations, the affinity they share will one day lead to ever-deepening cooperation. Our two peoples are fascinated by each other’s distinctive cultures. Chinese culture was greatly admired in France. The influence of Chinese culture can be found in the writings of French Enlightenment thinkers and the interior decoration of Versailles. Similarly, the masterpieces of French writers and artists are popular in China. In the past 50 years, our two countries have treated each other with respect, equality and trust, thus laying an important foundation for ensuring steady and long-term growth of bilateral relations.

As many of you know, some of the first generation of leaders of the Communist Party of China studied in France, such as Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Cai Hesen, Chen Yi and Nie Rongzhen. Because of this, I developed a keen interest in French culture and particularly French history, philosophy, literature and art when I was a young man. By reading modern French history, especially writings on the French Revolution, I have gained a better perspective of the laws governing the political and social evolution of the human society. By reading Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Saint-Simon, Fourier and Sartre, I have deepened my understanding of how progress of the mind propels progress in society. By reading Montaigne, La Fontaine, Molière, Stendhal, Balzac, Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, Flaubert, Alexandre Dumas, fils, Maupassant and Romain Rolland, I have better appreciated life with all its joys and sorrows. I still recall vividly literary characters such as Jean Valjean, Quasimodo and Boule de Suif. By watching the works of Millet, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Monet and Rodin and the paintings of Zao Wou-ki which integrate elements of both East and West, I have refined my artistic taste. And by reading science fictions written by Jules Verne, I have discovered a new world where imagination knows no boundary. French opera, ballet, architecture, sports, food, fashion and film all hold great appeal to people in China. Learning about the French culture has also helped me better appreciate both the Chinese culture and the profound nature and rich diversity of human civilizations.

— Foresight and strategic vision is the fundamental guarantee for ensuring the growth of China-France relationship. Over the past five decades, the successive leaders of our two countries, never distracted by temporary problems, have approached our relationship with foresight and strategic vision. They have devoted themselves to pursuing peaceful coexistence and win-win outcome by rising above the mindset of bloc confrontation and seeking common ground while shelving differences. France is the first western power to have established a comprehensive partnership and then a comprehensive strategic partnership with China and to have entered into strategic dialogue with it. Our two countries have been engaged in ground-breaking strategic cooperation in many areas. We have maintained close communication on international affairs and worked together to build a more just and equitable international order.

— Win-win cooperation is a powerful engine driving the growth of China-France relationship. Our cooperation is mutually beneficial and our peoples are the greatest beneficiaries of such cooperation. Over the past five decades, two-way trade has increased by over 500 times from the early days of our diplomatic ties. The number of people going on mutual visits, virtually zero at the beginning, has soared to close to two million each year. Fifty thousand French are learning Chinese and 100,000 Chinese are learning French. French actress Sophie Marceau appeared in the Spring Festival Gala performance, the most popular TV show in China. China-France cooperation is quietly changing the lives of the Chinese and French peoples and will surely bring ever greater benefits to them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

The ancient Chinese thinker Confucius said, “At fifty, I know the mandate of heaven.” As China-France relationship has turned 50, we should build on what we have achieved and chart the future course of our relationship and make it even closer, sustainable and special.

First, we need to enhance mutual respect and trust to consolidate the political foundation of China-France relationship. To keep the bilateral relations on the right track, the two sides need to help each other in time of difficulty, maintain candid and sincere consultations, and seek common ground while putting aside differences. We should firmly support each other in upholding sovereignty, security, development and other core interests, step up strategic dialogue, deepen strategic cooperation and properly handle differences so as to strengthen the strategic nature of the China-France relationship, make it more stable and predictable, and better uphold our shared interests.

Second, we need to continue win-win cooperation to cement the economic foundation of China-France relationship. Only by breaking new ground can we further expand our economic cooperation and translate our high-quality political relations into real benefits to our peoples. The just released Mid- and Long-term Plan of Cooperation of China-France Relationship will guide our pragmatic cooperation in the time to come. China will work with France to foster a sense of destiny of shared interests, expand converging interests and build stronger business ties.

Third, we need to carry forward friendship from generation to generation to lay a solid social foundation for China-France relationship. The two sides can use the occasion of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the newly-established China-France High-level Mechanism of Dialogue on People-to-People Exchanges as a platform to encourage interactions and cooperation between the general public of the two countries. This will ensure that our peoples will firmly support, actively contribute to and truly benefit from China-France friendship and cooperation. In particular, we need to encourage our young people to get actively involved in forging friendly ties between the two countries.

Fourth, we need to pursue openness in an enterprising spirit to jointly promote the growth of the global economy. We should improve economic cooperation, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and oppose protectionism, and this meets the common interests of all countries. We should step up macroeconomic policy coordination, advance reforms of international economic, financial and monetary systems, build an open and fair multilateral trading system, increase exchanges and cooperation on international aid and ensure that economic globalization will be inclusive and benefit all.

Fifth, we need to maintain close coordination to jointly meet global challenges. It is important for us to strengthen consultation, coordination and collaboration on international and regional issues, further promote multi-polarity in the world and democracy in international relations as well as equal consultation in the collective making of international rules. All these efforts will make China-France relationship an important force for upholding world peace and promoting human progress.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

With dreams, opportunities and hard work, we can create all beautiful things. Today, the Chinese people are endeavoring to realize the Chinese dream of the great renewal of the Chinese nation. President Hollande has also called for achieving the French dream. During his visit to China last year, President Hollande suggested to me that the Chinese and French peoples, while working to realize their own dreams, should also join hands to realize the shared dream of China and France.

Since modern times, the great renewal of the Chinese nation has been the biggest dream cherished by the people in China. China’s cultural traditions, historical destiny and actual conditions all determine that the Chinese people can only realize their dream by embarking on a path of their own choice.

— The Chinese dream is about the pursuit of peace. The realization of the Chinese dream is premised on peace, because only peace can make one’s dream come true. Achieving universal peace has been a cherished ideal of the Chinese nation for several thousand years. Having gone through many sufferings, the Chinese people value peace and hope to build, maintain and live in peace with other countries. History will demonstrate that the pursuit of the Chinese dream will bring to the world opportunities rather than threats, peace rather than turmoil, and progress rather than backwardness. Napoleon Bonaparte once compared China to a “sleeping lion” and observed that “when she wakes she will shake the world.” Now China the lion has awakened, but it is a peaceful, amicable and civilized lion.

— The Chinese dream is about the quest for happiness. It is both the dream of the Chinese nation and the dream of every Chinese. Our goal is to provide everyone with the opportunity to both develop himself and contribute to the society, to live up to his full potential and realize his own dream. Our job is to ensure that people have the equal right to participation and development, uphold social fairness and justice, bring the benefits of development to more people and in a more equitable manner and advance steadily towards common prosperity.

— The Chinese dream is about contributing to the common good of the world. “In poverty, one should still hold himself to a high standard; when prosperous, one should contribute to the wellbeing of all.” This ancient Chinese maxim describes the lofty aspirations and vision cherished by the Chinese people. By managing its own affairs well, China is both fulfilling the responsibility to its own people and contributing to the common good of the world. As it grows steadily, China will, as it has done in the past, continue to endeavor to contribute to world peace and development.

To realize the Chinese dream, we have set out two centennial goals, namely, to double the 2010 GDP and people’s income and finish the building of a society of initial prosperity in all respects by 2020, and to turn China into a modern socialist country that is strong, prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious and realize the great renewal of the Chinese nation by mid-21st century.

We are keenly aware that to realize this Chinese dream, we must comprehensively deepen reform, further free people’s mind, unleash and develop social productivity, and unlock and enhance the vigor of the society. In November last year, the Communist Party of China convened the third plenum of its 18th Central Committee, which adopted the master plan for comprehensively deepening reform and sounded the clarion call for launching a new round of reform. By carrying out reforms in the economic, political, cultural, social and ecological fields, we will improve and develop the system of socialism with definitive Chinese features, modernize the national governance system and capability, make the market play a decisive role in resources allocation, and better play the role of the government. We have drawn up a general plan with well defined responsibilities for carrying out these reform initiatives, and these initiatives are being implemented. With great potential and bright prospect, China’s development will create huge space for cooperation with other countries.

As an ancient Chinese saying puts it, “All living things are nourished without injuring one another; all roads run parallel without interfering with one another.” The Chinese dream offers an opportunity to France; so does the French dream to China. To open an era of close and enduring China-France comprehensive strategic partnership is the sure choice for us; and it is the most important point of strategic consensus I have reached with President Hollande during this visit. I truly hope that our two countries and peoples will increase mutual understanding and extend mutual assistance in the pursuit of our respective dreams. Together, we will realize the “Sino-French dream”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Friendship between peoples holds the key to building sound state-to-state relations. We owe the good relationship between China and France today to the mutual understanding, friendship and assistance between our peoples.

We will never forget the important contribution made by numerous French friends to the cause of China’s development: Jean Augustin Bussiere, a French doctor, risked his life to transport much needed medicine on his bike to base area of anti-Japanese aggression in China. Jean-Guillaume Houel, a military doctor, rescued a little Chinese girl trapped in a lift during the devastating Wenchuan earthquake despite strong aftershocks. Françoise Grenot-Wang did all she could to assist Chinese kids who dropped out of school. Christian Bauer, the French coach, has trained several Chinese sabre fencers who have become world champions. And Mr. Alan Perrin was recently appointed head coach of the Chinese men’s national football team. The Chinese football fans have great expectations in him and I wish him the best of luck.

There is a French saying: “Little by little, the bird builds its nest.” And there is a Chinese saying: “A towering tree grows out of a small seedling; a nine-storeyed terrace begins with heaps of earth.” The China-France friendship owes itself to the dedication of the Chinese and French peoples. Here, I wish to take this opportunity to pay high tribute to all those who have worked quietly to strengthen China-France friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

A review of what we have achieved gives me more confidence in advancing our friendship at a new historical starting point. Let us work hand in hand to open up even brighter prospects for China-France relationship.

Thank you.

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