left corner left corner
China Daily Website  

French envoy sees 'fantastic' opportunity in China relations

Updated: 2014-03-06 08:21
By Li Xiang in Paris ( China Daily)


The ongoing reforms being carried out by China's top leadership and the country's growing influence on the scene of international affairs will continue to create positive momentum in its cooperation with Europe including France, a senior French politician and diplomat said.

"The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has decided to deepen reforms in all areas since its third plenary session last November. And we regard China's rapid development in recent years as a fantastic opportunity to increase cooperation in all sectors and together to tackle major global issues," said Martine Aubry, the French Foreign Ministry's special representative to China.

Aubry's comments came ahead of the opening of China's annual meeting of its legislative body, the National People's Congress and the upcoming visit of President Xi Jinping to Europe later this month.

Aubry identified three major challenges that are confronting China: food safety and quality, sustainable urban development and healthcare. She believes these are the key sectors where China and France should intensify cooperation in the future.

French envoy sees 'fantastic' opportunity in China relations

The challenges were acknowledged by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. The deepening of reforms, fighting pollution and carrying out a new type of people-centered urbanization were among the key words of the Government Work Report.

"No one can remain indifferent to the impressive change that China has undergone. Personally, I want to understand how this shift took place and how China will tackle the new challenges facing it," Aubry said.

A frequent traveler to China and an admirer of Chinese civilization, Aubry has observed the country's reforms closely since she was appointed the French Foreign Ministry's special representative, after Francois Hollande was elected president in May 2012.

Before that, she served as the first secretary of the French Socialist Party from 2008 to 2012. She is also the mayor of Lille, the largest city in northern France.

"The emergence of China is an opportunity," she said. "Its growing role in the international arena and in global governance goes hand in hand with the new responsibilities that France has been encouraging it to assume."

"In fact, China has stepped up to its responsibilities by continually increasing its involvement in the United Nations," she added, noting that Beijing and Paris should further strengthen dialogue and cooperation in dealing with international issues given that both sides are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Aubry said she sees Xi's upcoming visit to France as a significant opportunity for Beijing and Paris to strengthen the personal ties of their presidents and to highlight major elements of the Sino-French partnership.

The main priorities of the meeting between Hollande and Xi are to strengthen political dialogue, rebalance economic relations in a spirit of reciprocity and encourage more exchanges between civil societies, in particular between the younger people of the two countries, she said.

She also said that strengthening Sino-French economic relations must start with an analysis of each other's needs.

"We must look beyond the traditional strategic sectors of nuclear energy and aeronautics and update our understanding of the needs of Chinese consumers and the sectors where French companies can satisfy Chinese demand," she said.

(China Daily 03/06/2014 page8)