The Sino-French Connection
Reflections on a half-century of diplomatic relations between China and France
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Editor's Desk
Print Edition> Editor's Desk
UPDATED: January 20, 2014 NO. 4 JANUARY 23, 2014
Romantic Engagement

In the eyes of many Chinese, France is synonymous with romance. The mere mention of the country will conjure vivid images of its culture, lifestyle and fashion, while French icons such as the Louvre, Bordeaux wine and Christian Dior are widely admired in China.

The relationship China has forged with France since the establishment of their diplomatic ties five decades ago, however, is not only romantic but also pragmatic and fruitful. One of the most important driving forces behind this enduring partnership is a shared commitment to diversity, equality and independence.

The two countries' love affair began in 1964 at a time when many Western nations remained hostile toward New China. France took the initiative as it recognized the potential of the East Asian giant. More importantly, Paris sought to pursue an independent foreign policy without succumbing to outside pressure, which is also a cornerstone of China's diplomacy.

The two countries have since engaged in collaboration by making the most of their respective advantages. For instance, civilian nuclear power cooperation, which requires sophisticated technology as well as a high level of mutual trust, has borne abundant fruit. China and France jointly built the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station in south China's Shenzhen three decades ago, which supplies electricity to both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. Now the two countries appear poised to replicate their success story in other countries as they have agreed to explore global nuclear energy markets.

While business ties flourish, an increasing number of Chinese people have fulfilled their dreams to visit France. More than 1.5 million Chinese tourists poured into France in 2012, and 525,000 French visitors toured the "Middle Country." Tourism, coupled with cultural and educational exchanges, have cemented bonds between ordinary Chinese and French.

All-round interactions between China and France show that it is possible for countries with different cultural traditions and political systems to develop productive relations. They exemplify China's vision for a "harmonious world," in which nations following diverse development paths work together for common prosperity. Harmony, however, is not necessarily a state of affairs where no disputes exist. Instead, the new thinking calls on parties to resolve disputes by consulting with others on an equal footing and accommodating their legitimate concerns. It will enable the Sino-French ties to make continuous strides and at the same time exert a positive impact on the world at large.

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