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French president makes unexpected visit to China

By Ding Chun (Global Times)

17:02, August 26, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited China on Aug. 25 during his tour of France's New Caledonia. Although the French side said the visit was "already arranged one month ago," the rarely unexpected visit has still attracted widespread attention and speculation.

First, Sarkozy's unexpected visit to China is due to the serious economic situation facing E.U. countries. Sarkozy's visit to China shortly after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden concluded his visit to China in an attempt to recover public confidence in the U.S. debt has naturally made people think that his visit is aimed to dismissing the external doubts about the European Union's determination and capability to resolve the sovereign debt issue and securing China's continuous support that has, after all, turned 26 percent of its huge amount of foreign exchange reserves into euro assets.

Second, China's voice in the world economy, the international financial system and global governance is increasingly loud and indispensable, and China itself is assuming more and more responsibilities and obligations in international affairs. As his nation holds the rotating presidency of the G20 group, Sarkozy needs to discuss and consult with China on a series of major international issues that are worth being put on the table. Meanwhile, the post-war arrangement in Libya, which is about to undergo a regime change, will likely be one of the topics.

However, the aforementioned reasons are not enough to explain Sarkozy's sudden visit to China. Sarkozy’s character and France's dream of restoring its status as a great power should also be taken into consideration. France has long lost its status as a first-tier country or a colonial power. Its high-profile intervention in the Russia-Georgia conflict, the Libyan crisis and other issues in recent years has fully shown the French people's unwillingness to degenerate into a second-tier country.

Furthermore, Sarkozy, a Napoleon wannabe, is more willing to make high-profile appearances in the international stage and play a leading role in dealing with international affairs than to handle domestic affairs. However, France is not as powerful as it once was, and handling too many international affairs has obviously gone beyond its ability. Although it is a core member of the European Union, France remains dependent on Germany economically and is unable to solve the economic crisis on its own.

Fairly speaking, Sarkozy's enthusiasm deserves certain respect and praise. Although Europe is suffering from the sovereign debt crisis today, every E.U. member country is "cleaning only the snow in front of its own door." And the reason for this fact is that Europe is currently short of the politicians who are willing to promote European integration actively, such as Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman, Charles de Gaulle, Helmut Kohl, Francois Mitterrand and Gerhard Schroeder, and is also short of the politicians who have a global outlook but do not pay attention to only the votes. The cost of backward European integration is what Europe and the world cannot afford.

Today, as globalization is developing, every country should work together to deal with the crisis, and no country can keep out of it. China, out of the consideration of maintaining a multi-polar global structure and alleviating its financial, economic and foreign reserve risks, is willing to help Europe, stabilize the euro and maintain the healthy operation of the global economic system by practical measures, such as increasing its exports, and also advocates the reform of the international administrative frameworks, including the International Monetary Fund.

While the European Union and Sarkozy are asking China to undertake more responsibility in safeguarding the global economic stability and providing more supports to Europe, they should also give up their own selfish calculations and make proper sacrifices and compromises that developed countries should make. They should not require poor countries to support rich countries again and again or even demand from China unreasonable actions, such as forcing the RMB to appreciate. After all, China, as an emerging economy, is facing huge challenges brought by the transitions of its social and economic structures, and the contribution that the people of China can make to the world is limited.

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