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Hollande's visit expected to open new chapter

By LI XIANG in Paris and ZHOU WA in Beijing (China Daily)

13:59, April 25, 2013

French President Francois Hollande will arrive in Beijing for his first official visit to China on Thursday to pave the way for stronger bilateral exchanges.

His visit is expected to open a new chapter in bilateral ties, which have experienced ups and downs over the past few years, observers said.

Accompanied by a political and business delegation of nearly 100 people, Hollande will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. He will also address a China-France business forum.

The two-day visit will also take him to Shanghai, where he will deliver a keynote speech at Shanghai Jiao Tong University on the global challenges facing France and China.

A major objective of Hollande's visit will be to establish a high-level political dialogue between the two countries, a senior French diplomat said.

"France considers China a global strategic partner. So implementing regular, high-level dialogue with China on major political and economic issues will be high on the agenda of Hollande's visit," said Christian Lechervy, special foreign affairs adviser to the French president.

Important visit

Hollande will be the first head of state from a major Western nation to visit China since China's leadership transition in March.

The visit will pave way for preparations for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year.

The debut of China's new leadership in March and the 50th anniversary celebrations offer a good chance for the two countries to improve ties, said Ding Chun, a professor in European studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

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