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Ex-ambassador: Sino-French ties solid and dynamic

Updated: 2014-01-22 16:33
By Li Xiang in Paris ( chinadaily.com.cn)

France's relations with China cannot be "business as usual" and a solid and dynamic Sino-French relationship can contribute substantially to a more stable and cohesive multipolar world, said former French ambassador to China Pierre Morel.

Morel made the comments ahead of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France on January 27.

Ex-ambassador: Sino-French ties solid and dynamic
Former French ambassador to China Pierre Morel

Half a century ago, Charles de Gaulle, the late French president, announced the momentous decision to recognize the new Chinese government, which made France the first major western power to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing at the ambassadorial level.

"It is our common asset that we must continue to expand," Morel said, noting that a stronger strategic partnership between China and France still has important impact on international affairs.

"Today we have a multipolar world but we still face the serious challenge of disorder. So we have to mobilize better thinking and action to improve the international system. A solid and dynamic Sino-French relationship can contribute a lot to that," he said.

Morel served as the French ambassador to China from 1996 to 2002, an important period of time during which the two countries experienced one of the warmest moments in their bilateral relations.

Morel helped prepare the visit of former French President Jacque Chirac to China in May 1997, the first state visit by a French president in 14 years. The visit eventually led the joint declaration of China and France on forging a comprehensive partnership, a key milestone in Sino-French relations.

"There was the sense that it was the turning point and a new phase will start," Morel said.

"For me, it was a wonderful start as the event indicated that our relationship entered a key dimension and it helped me sort out the main lines of our relations in the political, economic and cultural areas," he said.

"It gave me the sense of arriving in a country where new elites were emerging with full transformation that will open new opportunities," he added.

As the French ambassador to China, Morel also witnessed some key historic moments in China's history, including the death of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, China's adoption of a market economy and the return of Hong Kong to the mainland.

Morel noted that both China and France are undertaking critical reforms which could open new opportunities for cooperation in sectors such as urban planning, healthcare, education, and environmental protection.

The year 2008 was an disappoint to both China and France as the bilateral relations took a downturn after former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama and the disruption of the torch relay of the Beijing Olympics in Paris.

Morel said that despite of the "ups and downs," France remains committed to pursuit of strong relations with China.

"When I was working for President Mitterrand, I could sense the precise and careful attention France had on China," he said. "Today every French leader at all levels is fully conscious of the importance of France's relations"

Morel noted that France and China should jointly develop a creative vision of the international order and explore new opportunities together to achieve it.

"We cannot do it alone or isolate one another. We can neither regress in the nice dream of the past," he said, adding that it is necessary for China and France to combine their forces against the backdrop of a much more complicated context of the world.

Meanwhile, Morel said that both countries should continue to encourage direct people-to-people exchanges to improve mutual understanding.

"For example, the number of people learning Chinese has expanded dramatically in France, and almost all the top schools and universities in France have introduced programs related to China," he said.

"We can really bet on the next generation to take over and push forward our relations in the future," he said.