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Establishment of Sino-French Diplomatic Relations

In 1958, the Fifth Republic was established in France and General de Gaulle was back in office, pursued an independent foreign policy and attached greater importance to enhancing relations with China. Authorized by General de Gaulle, former French Premier Edgar Faure came to China in October 1963, carrying with him a hand-written letter from the General and on behalf of the General, he would discuss Sino-French relations with Chinese leaders. Premier Zhou Enlai and Foreign Minister Chen Yi held talks with Me. Faure who said that President de Gaulle hoped to hold talks with the Chinese leaders on relations between the two countries and that the General wanted him to conduct talks with the Chinese leaders on his behalf; quite a lot of problems have been caused by the fact that France did not at first recognize the People?s Republic of China and maintained, instead, relations with Chiang Kai-shek; now, if China is willing to negotiate with France the question of establishment of Sino-French diplomatic relations, France, will make its decision independently, regardless of other countries? opinions. Premier Zhou said that General de Gaulle has taken some courageous steps to safeguard the national independence and state sovereignty of France since he came to power several years ago. Some big powers may not be happy about it, but we feel that this is the way a country should act. At the same time, the question of Algeria which remained unsolved for many years has now been settled according to the will of national self-determination of Algeria, and France has recognized the country?s independence. This is a good thing. Premier Zhou further added that France does not accede to the partial nuclear test ban treaty and China is also opposed to the treaty. Though the two sides did not exchange views on this matter in advance, their actions have turned out to be the same. This is because both China and France want to maintain their independence and sovereignty and each is opposed to any foreign interference or encroachment. We both hold that the international community should maintain world peace and must not allow a few big powers to monopolize international affairs. Premier Zhou stressed the common ground existing between China and France and believed that the time was ripe for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Mr. Faure agreed with this view.

As for the specific approach to the establishment of diplomatic relations, Mr. Faure said that France was ready to recognize the People?s Republic of China and the fact that there was only one China, but it hoped that China would not insist on France taking the initiative to sever its diplomatic relations with Taiwan first. To this, Premier Zhou replied: when it comes to the question of Taiwan, there can be two different kinds of situation. One involves the view that ?the status of Taiwan remains undetermined?, which is indeed no small matter as it may lead to the creation of ?two Chinas?. The other shows that the question is regarded as a complicated one with the exchange of embassies and consulates between the Chiang Kai-shek clique and France, so certain procedures need to be adopted to end such relations; in that case, the problem is not a very serious one. Mr. Faure confirmed that France was faced with the second kind of situation.

Considering the importance of establishing diplomatic relations between China and France to the development of relations between China and other West European countries, China adopted a flexible attitude towards the specific steps to be taken in establishing the diplomatic relations while maintaining its principled position of opposing the creation of ?two Chinas?. After China and France reached a tacit agreement on France Recognizing the Government of the People?s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, China accepted the French proposal, i.e. to announce the establishment of Sino-French diplomatic relations first, thus leading to the severance of ?diplomatic relations? between France and Taiwan. Later on, through negotiations in Switzerland between their representatives on specific matters concerning the establishment of diplomatic relations, China and France finally issued a joint communiqué on 27 January 1964, announcing the establishment of their diplomatic relations with ambassadors to be appointed within three months. Pursuant to the prior agreement between the two sides, a spokesman of the Chinese foreign Ministry was authorized to issue a statement on 28 January concerning the establishment of the diplomatic relations in which he pointed out: ?It was in the capacity of the sole legal government representing all the Chinese People that the Government of the People?s Republic of China entered into negotiations and reached agreement with the Government of the French Republic on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. According to international practice, recognition of the new government of a country naturally implies ceasing to recognize to old ruling group overthrown by the people of the country?. Under such circumstances, the Taiwan authorities withdrew their ?embassy? in France. Afterwards, Charge d?Affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in France arrived in Paris. France thus became the first big country in the west to establish formal diplomatic relations with China. This was a major breakthrough in China?s efforts to strengthen its relations with Western Europe and another heavy blow to the U.S. policy of isolating China.
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