France and China hail 'global strategic partnership'

5th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 5 (AFP) - France and China on Monday marked the mid-point of a two-year programme of cultural exchanges they hailed as a big success, saying it was enhancing a wider "strategic relationship" they see as an emerging counterweight to US geo-political dominance.

PARIS, July 5 (AFP) - France and China on Monday marked the mid-point of a two-year programme of cultural exchanges they hailed as a big success, saying it was enhancing a wider "strategic relationship" they see as an emerging counterweight to US geo-political dominance.

"Our two countries, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, have the common aim of acting while taking into account the complexity of the world," French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told a Paris media conference, making brief mention of a shared stance on Iraq.

"They share the conviction that the future must necessarily be built on dialogue and the respect of identities in a pluralist and multi-polar world," he said before an audience of French and Chinese journalists and dignitaries.

His view was echoed by the Chinese ambassador to Paris, Zhao Jinjun, who said the reciprocal cultural programme - in the form of a Year of China in France, coming to an end, and a Year of France in China about to begin - helped "deepen this global strategic partnership".

Zhao stressed that, in many cases, Paris and Beijing had "common analyses" of international issues and shared "an enormous responsibility regarding world peace".

France and China have gone to extraordinary lengths to underline the extent of their cooperation in the respective programmes highlighting each other's culture.

French President Jacques Chirac, a known Sinophile, is to head to China in October on a state visit marking the start of the Year of France there, in a trip mirroring the pomp which accompanied Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited France in January as part of the Year of China celebrations.

The unprecedented sight of the Eiffel Tower being lit red and a Chinese New Year parade on the Champs-Elysees during Hu's stay, as well as the grand finale - a giant fireworks display at Versailles last weekend and a Shanghai festival in Paris - earned high praise from Chinese officials.

"All these gestures have made us fully feel the best intentions of France and reinforced the friendly ties between the two countries," China's deputy culture minister, Meng Xiaosi, said alongside Barnier.

She outlined a reciprocal series of events that would begin in China showcasing France, starting with a music and light show in Beijing's Forbidden City featuring French musician Jean-Michel Jarre, who also attended Monday's conference, followed by a French picnic on the Great Wall of China.

In a sign of the enthusiasm French business has for China's booming market, luxury group LVMH and state-run electricity company Electricite de France have paid for much of the cost of the extravaganza.

The cultural two-step the two countries are in the middle of has already borne fruit in other areas.

Last month, France and China signed billions of euros' worth of trade contracts, headlined by a EUR V2 billion (USD 1.7-billion) deal to supply 20 Airbus aircaft to a Chinese airline inked by visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan.

"Europe and France need China," French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said, explaining that "with globalisation, we have entered into a truly global civilisation where cultural dialogue... is needed more than ever to accompany the development of economic and social exchanges".

Although he and Barnier and the Chinese ambassador hinted that they expect the Beijing-Paris relationship to also form a geo-political bloc able to challenge US dominance, they declined to directly answer a question about what their "strategic partnership" could mean for Washington.

"China has a dialogue with the United States, as do we," Barnier said.

He stressed that the Franco-Chinese relationship, particularly on the UN Security Council, aimed to tackle "the instability of the world" caused by terrorism, disease and inequitable development.

France would remain vigilant on China's oft-criticised human rights record, he added, saying that a joint commitment to "humanity" was needed if the two countries were to promote a "more peaceful, more balanced" world.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

 

 

 

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