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France-China Ties on Mend (Page 2 of 3)

Sarkozy, for his part, avoided confronting the host government about Tibet, the value of the yuan, Beijing’s human rights policies, or other sensitive issues. He also reaffirmed that both Taiwan and Tibet belonged to the one Chinese government in Beijing, a position Paris has held since French President Charles de Gaulle became the first major Western government to recognize The People’s Republic on January 27, 1964, moving the French Embassy from Taipei to Beijing. During his three-day stay last week, Sarkozy met with Wen, President Hu Jintao, and Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and officially the second highest-ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party. In addition to consulting with these and other officials in Beijing, Sarkozy also attended the April 30 opening ceremony of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

In Beijing, Sarkozy called China a very important strategic partner of France and advocated greater Sino-French cooperation on major international economic and security issues. The day before his departure from Paris, Sarkozy told the official Xinhua News Agency that he wanted to establish a ‘comprehensive and strategic’ partnership with China. ‘Comprehensive, because it covers all aspects of our relationship; strategic, because China has become an absolutely essential player on the international stage….There are no more big issues today that we can tackle without China.’

Wen reciprocated by telling Sarkozy that the Chinese appreciated the great importance of having good ties with France and the French people, adding that, ‘A stable and cooperative China-France relationship accords with fundamental interests of both sides, and can make more contributions to the world.’ At a joint presidential news conference in Beijing, Hu said that ‘Sarkozy’s visit to China has opened a new page in Sino-French relations.’

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In line with standard Chinese diplomatic practice, Hu offered a four-point proposal to further upgrade the China-France relationship: maintain high-level exchanges, dialogue and consultations; boost pragmatic cooperation; strengthen cultural exchanges; and cooperate on local and global challenges to promote a peaceful and stable international environment. Hu accepted Sarkozy’s invitation to visit France later this year.

According to the Chinese media, at one point Hu told Sarkozy that both their countries had an interest in promoting ‘multi-polarization’ in international affairs, and the World Bank’s decision on April 25 to expand the voting power of China, India, and other developing countries, following the successful BRIC [Brazil-Russia-India-China] summit the previous week, testifies to the increasing multilateralization of the global economy.

Starting this November, France will hold the rotating one-year presidency of the G8 and G20, making Paris an important power center next year. Although China is not a formal member of the G8, Hu has become a regular attendee at the second-day ‘outreach’ sessions, when the G8 leaders meet with the most important non-member countries. China is of course a major player in the G20, and Sarkozy said he wanted to work with China within that framework to develop ‘a new multipolar monetary order.’

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