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Beijing, Paris eye fruitful cooperation

By ZHANG YUNBI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-21 23:00

Wang Yi, foreign minister and director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, shakes hands on Tuesday with French President's Diplomatic Counselor Emmanuel Bonne during the 25th China-France Strategic Dialogue in Paris. [Photo by ZHAO DINGZHE / XINHUA]  

Analysts said that China-France ties, which turned 60 on Jan 27, have made a new and productive start in the Chinese New Year, as Beijing and Paris agreed at their latest talks to increase direct flights between the two nations and conduct more high-level exchanges in 2024.

Another major highlight is the two sides' plan to deepen cooperation on major global issues and promote Beijing's ties with the European Union, observers added.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is also director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, co-chaired the 25th China-France Strategic Dialogue with Emmanuel Bonne, diplomatic counselor to French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris on Tuesday.

In addition to increasing direct flights, the two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in a long list of areas such as climate change, biodiversity, agricultural and food products, clean energy, nuclear energy, artificial intelligence and aerospace.

Last year, bilateral trade reached $78.936 billion. As 2024 is the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, the two sides agreed to organize hundreds of cultural exchange activities throughout the year.

Also on Tuesday, Macron met with Wang in Paris and expressed his good wishes to the Chinese people in the Year of the Dragon.

Macron recalled his successful visit to China last year, and said that he looks forward to working with China to prepare for high-level exchanges this year.

Paris has consistently pursued the one-China policy and this position is clear and unequivocal, he added.

Wang hailed the strong mutual trust and sincere friendship of the two heads of state and their role in leading bilateral strategic cooperation.

China has been the No 1 Asian country investing and creating jobs in France for three consecutive years.

Wang said that China will continue to open its market to other countries including France, and he expressed the hope that France will also create a fair and just business environment for Chinese enterprises.

At the high-level dialogue between Wang and Bonne, key agenda items included China-EU ties and global governance.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Wednesday that China and France agreed to "act as a force of stability for China-Europe relations and for today's world".

"As major countries, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and important forces in a multipolar world, China and France share similar positions on major issues," Mao added.

Zhang Ji, professor and deputy dean of Fudan University's School of International Relations and Public Affairs in Shanghai, said, "Strategic coordination and cooperation between Beijing and Paris is indispensable for shaping the balanced growth of relations among major countries in the world."

"China-France cooperation is also greatly needed to help resolve regional hotspot issues, as both nations subscribe to multilateralism, political settlement, balance and fairness," he added.

Wang told Bonne that the two countries should "respond more effectively to global challenges and more positively to the expectations of the international community".

Bonne said Paris is willing to join hands with Beijing to avoid confrontation between major countries, prevent bloc confrontation and improve global governance.

On China-EU ties, Wang said Beijing supports Europe in strengthening its strategic autonomy and taking its future and destiny into its own hands. Meanwhile, Bonne said France stands for Europe's strategic autonomy and supports the EU and China further honoring the definition of their partnership and strengthening effective cooperation.

"China-EU ties have shown signs of relief and improvement over the past year," said Liu Zuo­kui, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies. "Wang's Europe trip will help reduce tension and misunderstanding brought by attempts to disengage China, hype risks and politicize China-EU cooperation."

France was the third and last stop of Wang's Europe trip at the beginning of the Chinese New Year. He also traveled to Germany to attend the 60th Munich Security Conference, which was followed by a visit to Spain.

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