Three days, three cities from west to east, more than 2,200 years of civilization and developments-this was what French President Nicholas Sarkozy covered during his November 25-27 visit to China. Besides his discussions with Chinese leaders and a speech at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Sarkozy visited some of the capital's Olympic venues and traveled to Xi'an to see the historical terracotta army. In Shanghai, he felt the pulse of a modernized China, and promoted bilateral economic cooperation.
Sarkozy's state visit to China was productive from a diplomatic viewpoint as well. During their talks, Sarkozy and Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman Wu Bangguo of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, pushed the strategic partnership between the two countries to a new level based on their all-round cooperation.
Over the past years, China and France have formed a stable, long-term, strategic relationship. They share mutual trust in politics, complementary trade and frequent cultural exchanges. Both top Chinese leaders and the visiting French president believe the development of Sino-French strategic partnership will maintain strong momentum.
On the French side, Sarkozy described Sino-French ties as "very close." According to him, France wants to strengthen dialogues with China on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and to push forward their bilateral strategic partnership. He also promised that France would continue to prompt Western countries to lift the weapons embargo against China.
Sarkozy pointed out that China's peaceful development brings opportunities, not threats. France supports China's peaceful rise, he said, adding that he expected China to play a bigger role in promoting world peace. Sarkozy also reiterated France's adherence to the one-China policy and its opposition to Taiwan authorities' push for a referendum on UN membership.
Closer and closer
China and France have maintained close consultation and coordination on multilateral affairs and key international issues. When talking to Sarkozy, Premier Wen said that China always stresses France's role in China's foreign policies. He hoped the two countries could jointly make contributions to the peace and prosperity of a harmonious world.
In recent years, the two countries' bilateral trade volume has increased rapidly. During Sarkozy's visit, China and France signed more than 20 agreements on cooperation in environmental protection, nuclear energy, civil aviation, telecommunications, education, health care, investment and city planning. Those deals are worth a total of about 20 billion euros ($29.7 billion).
The two countries have divergences as well, especially on the appreciation of the Chinese currency and France's trade deficit with China. Wen said China's exchange rate regime is based on market demands, and the Chinese Government's principle is that currency appreciation should be a gradual, independent and controllable process to maintain the yuan's flexibility. However, China will maintain an open dialogue with France on the issue, he emphasized.
On trade, Wen said China is making efforts to reach a trade balance with France. However, Wen said, 60 percent of China's exports come from foreign companies in the country, so it is not quite fair to place the blame for the trade imbalance solely on China. Wen said he believes that trade between China and France will bring prosperity to both sides, based on equal footing, friendly consultations and reciprocity.
Climate change was another hot topic for the two countries. Hu and Sarkozy issued a joint statement on fighting climate change, in which they reaffirmed their commitments to the aims, principles and provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. According to the statement, China and France will strengthen dialogue and cooperation on climate change, based on the principles of common but differential responsibility, respective capability and equity. China and France plan to establish a bilateral consultation mechanism on climate change and take turns holding meetings once a year. Their cooperation will cover such fields as biodiversity, water resources, desertification, natural disasters, forests, garbage treatment, pollution prevention and environment-friendly economic measures. They also will promote cooperation on the development, extension, application and transfer of technologies, as well as share ideas on energy saving, renewable energy, hydrogen energy and fuel battery, clean coal and nuclear power for civil use.
Top Three Orders During President Nicholas Sarkozy's China Visit
--China's Electricity Power Plant Co. and France's Areva SA signed an 8-billion-euro ($11.9-billion) agreement, in which the Chinese company agreed to buy two nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel from Areva.
--Airbus sold 160 Airbus aircraft, valued at a total of 10 billion euros ($14.8 billion), among which 150 were sold to the China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group Corp. and 10 to and China Southern Airlines.
--China Unicom and China Mobile signed agreements to buy telecommunications equipment form France's Alcatel-Lucent, altogether valued at 750 million euros ($1.1 billion).