At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanuel Macron paid a state visit to China from January 8 to 10, which made Macron the first foreign state leader to visit China in 2018, as well as the first European leader to visit China since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The bilateral ties between China and France stand at a new starting point. China entered a new era in building socialism with Chinese characteristics as the 19th CPC National Congress marked, while France, with its newly elected president, also embarked on a new journey to national rejuvenation. Macron attaches great importance to China-France relations and vows to lift the relationship to a new height.
The bilateral relationship is significant to both nations, to China-Europe relations and to the rest of the world. France was the first Western power to establish a formal diplomatic relationship with the People's Republic of China in 1964. The historical gesture by Chairman Mao Zedong and General Charles De Gaulle had an impact on the world of the day and beyond. Today, China-France relations have entered a new period of cooperation.
France is now the third largest recipient of Chinese investment within the European Union, while China is France's largest trade partner in Asia. The two nations are able to conduct good investment cooperation on sectors such as energy, automobiles, aviation and medicine. France had expressed strong willingness to participate in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which serves as a platform for the two nations to develop economy, trade and people-to-people ties. China and France are working together to dock Made in China 2025 with Industry of the Future, two ambitious plans to upgrade their respective manufacturing sectors and provide solutions for world industry upgrading and its sustainable development.
Also, it is expected that the two countries will reach further consensus on economic development strategies in 2018, a year marking the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up.
China and France on January 9 agreed to further advance their comprehensive strategic partnership. The two nations have maintained political mutual trust for over 50 years and both treat the bilateral relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective. Throughout intensive strategic dialogues and frequent cultural exchanges, the bilateral relationship has become a role model for cooperation between countries with different political systems and cultures.
"China and France, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and influential major countries, should jointly shoulder their special responsibilities," Xi said on January 9 during talks with Macron in Beijing. When jointly meeting the press, Xi said he and Macron agreed on reinforcing bilateral cooperation in the international context including jointly addressing global challenges such as climate change and terrorism.
Despite differences in social systems, stages of development and cultural traditions, China and France have enhanced mutual political trust and fully tapped into the potential for cooperation. In face of uncertainties ahead in world affairs, the China-France relationship has a lot more to achieve.