China, France renew 'kindred spirit' friendship, open new chapter of cooperation

By Zhou Ting (People's Daily Online) 15:59, May 15, 2024

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently concluded his third state visit to France, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The visit marked a reaffirmation of the China-France friendship, following Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron's enjoyment of the Guqin music piece "High Mountain and Flowing Water" together in the Pine Garden in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, in April 2023.

Xi's visit garnered significant attention from French media outlets, with approximately 17,000 news reports published between May 5-11. Mainstream French media, such as L'Indépendant and Radio France Internationale (RFI), frequently commented on the visit.

In Guangzhou last year, Xi shared the story behind "High Mountain and Flowing Water" with Macron as they strolled through the scenic spring garden, accompanied by the Guqin melody.

An article published by Le Vent de la Chine highlighted that the idea that a "kindred spirit" is hard to find, as conveyed by the music piece, symbolizes the profound friendship between China and France.

This year, the Chinese and French presidents and their spouses visited the snow-covered Col du Tourmalet mountain pass, holding an informal meeting and watching a performance of the shepherd's dance, a traditional folk dance from southern France.

RFI noted that this meeting, held at a location where President Macron used to vacation with his grandmother during his childhood, added a sense of intimacy to the diplomatic exchange, similar to the one in Guangzhou.

The exchange of state gifts between China and France also captured the attention of French mainstream media, with over 400 news reports emphasizing how both countries use gifts as a medium to showcase their contemporary friendship and the historical origins of their cultural exchanges and mutual learning.

During President Macron's state visit to China in 2023, he presented President Xi with a Sèvres porcelain vase. French broadcaster RTL noted that the vase's body is decorated with numerous goldfish patterns, symbolizing wealth in traditional Chinese culture.

In return, China gifted France 1.5 grams of lunar soil samples retrieved by China's Chang'e-5 probe.

The exchange of state gifts, representing a contemplation of tradition and a vision for the future, respectively, constituted another delightful anecdote in the exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and French cultures.

France's state gift to China this year was a colorfully carved vase featuring an auspicious dragon bringing a propitious omen, echoing the Chinese culture associated with the Year of the Dragon.

French media outlet BFM TV reported that the vase was made by a French artist in tribute to China, hoping it could serve as a symbolic link between the two ends of the Eurasian continent and promote exchanges between East and West.

The state gift presented by Xi to Macron this year included Chinese translations of French literary classics, such as "Madame Bovary," "The Red and the Black," and "Father Goriot."

With art and culture serving as a bridge, these state gifts effectively enhance the friendship between the two peoples and point the way to the future of the "China-France spirit."

The two countries also achieved important cultural cooperation milestones during Xi's visit to France. China decided to extend visa exemption entry for French citizens on short-term visits to China. Additionally, China expressed its ambition to host more than 10,000 French students over the next three years.

In Chinese culture, a 60-year cycle signifies the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new one. 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and France.

Sixty years may seem like a fleeting moment in the long course of history. Yet for China and France, these past 60 years have been an epic saga filled with countless legendary tales.

The future will see the deep friendship between China and France grow stronger as the two countries intensify their cooperation and cultural exchanges.

Zhou Ting is a professor at the Communication University of China.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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