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Premier Li's visit to France fruitful

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

07-03-2015 18:12 BJT

By Wu Jianmin, former Chinese ambassador to France

Premier Li Keqiang visited France from June 29 to July 2 as the Sino-French relationship enters a new stage. President Xi Jinping visited France in March 2014 on the 50th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations and issued a joint communique with his French counterpart, indicating the bilateral relationship has entered a new stage.

The bilateral relationship has been maintained at a high level. Top French and Chinese leaders paid mutual visits to each other within a year as President Francois Hollande visited China in 2013 and President Xi visited France in 2014. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls visited China in January and Premier Li visited France in June. Their mutual visits were made within six months. This is a specific expression of the high-level bilateral relationship.

Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, French ambassador to China, was a good friend of mine when I was working in France. At that time he was a diplomatic consultant to the then-French President Jacques Chirac, a quite high position. We also met each other many times after he came to China to take up the ambassadorial post in August. When we talked about Sino-French relations during our meetings, he was very excited. He said as France’s ambassador to China he was very busy because of frequent high-level exchanges between the two countries. In his view, the bilateral relationship is bound to develop to new heights. A busy ambassador demonstrates the Sino-France relationship has reached a high, mature level.

The visit of Premier Li to France may be summarized by a few phrases or words: high efficiency, new thought and breakthrough.

The first is high efficiency. Premier Li stayed in France only three days and met all the important figures in France’s political circles. He met President Hollande, talked with Prime Minister Valls and they met journalists together. He met speakers of both upper and lower houses. He visited Paris, Marseillaise and Toulouse. He also attended the EU-China Business Summit.

On the other hand, the visit was both bilateral and multilateral. At the multilateral level, Premier Li met Irina Bokova, Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the UN and the meeting between Premier Li and Bokova was quite significant for promoting the relationship between China and UNESCO. Premier Li also visited the headquarters of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and it was the first time for a Chinese premier to visit the OECD headquarters. It was a big event in relations between China and the OECD. The OECD Secretary General talked many times with me when I was working in France to express his intention to develop the relationship with China. In my opinion, the visit of Premier Li to OECD marks an improvement of the relationship between China and the OECD. Efficiency was so high that work was completed within three days.

The second is new thought. It can be seen from the visit of the premier that his thought was quite new. He started from the global perspective considering measures to combat the weak international economic recovery and demand. He analyzed three aspects: developing countries, China and developed countries.

Developing countries demand infrastructure as they are in the initial period of industrialization, but such demands may not be transformed to economic growth as funds are insufficient. China is in the middle of its industrialization. As a result of more than 30 years of development, China possesses comprehensive infrastructure productivity and a strong equipment manufacturing capability as well as a well-trained technical team to produce premium materials and equipment needed by the infrastructure. Developed countries are in the post-industrialization period and possess high-end technologies and unique advantages.

In view of the situation, Premier Li proposed developing a third-party market with France. This is a brand new thought that has been considered for a long time. When I was ambassador to France, I was instructed by my government to explore cooperation between China, France and Africa. Now the thought is formally proposed after a long period of preparation.

The thought of tri-party cooperation also complies with the international trend. The world has entered an age focused on peace and development. The mainstream now is win-win cooperation, while it was more of a zero-sum game in the past. Win-win cooperation is consistent with the current trend.

Premier Li pointed out in the visit that cooperation would benefit China, France and developing countries, promote international economic growth and solve the weak international economic recovery and demand.

The third concept is breakthrough, which is especially obvious in two aspects: Firstly, the joint declaration about cooperation in the third-party market and the joint declaration about cooperation in civil nuclear energy between China and France are breakthroughs. It is the first time China has issued such a declaration with another country and it is not accidental that China chose France as first partner because France is courageous. Many big events between China and western powers started in France. The premier also announced at the meeting with President Hollande that both countries had determined to establish a common fund to support cooperation by China and France in exploring the third-party market. Funding support is quite critical. The Sino-France Common Fund is another breakthrough. Those two declarations above are connected. China and France have been cooperating in developing the nuclear power market in the UK and one of the nuclear power plants under construction in the UK has investment from China and France.

Secondly, Premier Li announced at the meeting with President Hollande that the Chinese government would submit the Independent Contribution Document against Climate Change, confirming China’s  independent 2030 target: carbon dioxide emissions to reach peak value in about 2030 and peak as soon as possible. Emissions of carbon dioxide per unit GDP will fall 60-65 percent compared to 2005. Non-fossil energy will account for about 20 percent of one-time energy consumption and forest coverage will increase about 4.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2005.

This document is also very important. The United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris at the end of this year. For France, the conference is this year’s diplomatic focus. Climate change is a common challenge to all human beings. COP15 in Copenhagen was not satisfying. It is urgent all human beings deal with the challenge of climate change. Climate change was also mentioned in the recent Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue. China has become the country that emits the most greenhouse gases. The attitude of China is critical for the success for the conference. In my opinion, the Independent Contribution Document against Climate Change announced by the Premier will make an important contribution to the climate change conference to be held in Paris at the end of this year.

This visit of Premier Li was very successful. It contributed not only to the bilateral development of China and France, but also to the peace, stability and prosperity of the whole world.

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.








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