China, France enter new era of strategic partnership

08:13, November 08, 2010      

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Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday wrapped up a fruitful visit to France, opening a new chapter in the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

With Hu's three-day visit to France, which started on Thursday, the heads of state and top legislators of the two countries have visited each other's country within one year for the first time.

Earlier this year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Bernard Accoyer, speaker of the French National Assembly, visited China. China's top legislator Wu Bangguo has also visited France recently.

Such a frequent exchange of visits has been rare in the history of bilateral relations.

During his stay in France, Hu met Sarkozy on at least five occasions and the two leaders held in-depth consultations on issues concerning bilateral ties and major global affairs.

The frequency of their meetings in less than 48 hours reveals the high importance both sides have attached to this visit.

On Thursday, China and France issued a joint statement, pledging to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

The statement stressed that China and France, both permanent members of the UN Security Council and big economies in the world arena, shoulder special responsibilities, and China-France relations should continue to play an exemplary role.

The two sides should establish a new type of partnership and should also deepen their cooperation in international affairs to jointly deal with major global threats, especially the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, said the statement.

They should also work together to address such hotspot issues as Iran's nuclear program, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the conflict in Afghanistan, it added.

The two sides have also reached consensus on such issues as fighting protectionism, combating climate change, supporting Africa's economic growth and advancing China-EU relations.

During Hu's visit, China and France signed a number of cooperation agreements, covering a wide range of areas such as nuclear energy, aviation, finance, energy efficiency, environmental protection, climate change and culture.

According to French media's estimates, the total value of the trade and cooperation agreements signed between the two nations during Hu's visit could reach 20 billion euros (about 28.1 billion U.S. dollars).

French media Friday gave prominence to Hu's visit, saying it would boost bilateral relations and cooperation. The Le Figaro newspaper said Paris was pleased to receive the Chinese president and his visit has turned a new page in bilateral ties.

The website of Le Figaro carried a report on China's support to France for its rotating G20 presidency, saying it is a timely visit ahead of the upcoming G20 summit.

The Les Echos, a French daily, covered in detail the red carpet welcome given by Sarkozy and first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to Hu at the airport.

The agreements signed by the two sides are of great significance, said a report by the paper.

French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said Friday she was satisfied with Hu's state visit, which was very successful in terms of what has been achieved.

Lagarde said the agreements signed between the two sides were satisfactory in terms of both the number and variety.

She is especially glad to see the prospect of cooperation between the two sides in building ecological cities in China, the minister said, adding that France has real experience that can be helpful.

The French enterprises that signed cooperation agreements with their Chinese counterparts agreed that they saw a market of great potential, according to the media reports.

Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of nuclear energy giant Areva, said the agreements marked a new stage in the relationship between Areva and their Chinese partners and that they are of strategic importance in the world's largest nuclear energy market.

Hu's visit has also attracted extensive media attention and won high acclaim at home.

"The stable development of China-France relations conforms to the fundamental interests of both countries," said Shen Xiaoquan, a senior research fellow at the Center for World Affairs Studies of Xinhua News Agency.

In the years ahead, the broad consensus the two sides have built on political ideas, combating climate change and the overhaul of the global financial architecture will continue to play a positive and leading role in international affairs, he said.

Tian Dewen, an expert from the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said Hu's visit to France showed that efforts by both sides proved to be a success.

Tian said that in efforts to build closer bilateral ties, leaders of the two countries need to have a broad mind to seek common ground while shelving differences.

Kong Quan, Chinese ambassador to France, said there will be increased economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides after Hu's visit, and their relations are moving toward a new stage of all-round, healthy and fast development.



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