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Political relations

Diplomatic recognition of China on 27 January 1964 marked the starting-point of official relations between the People’s Republic of China and the French Republic. France was the first major Western country to appoint an ambassador plenipotentiary to Beijing. The relationship between France and China was designated a "comprehensive partnership" following the joint declaration of 16 May 1997. This decision by France, first taken in 1997 and confirmed at each high-level bilateral meeting since, is rooted in the belief that dialogue based on trust will encourage China on a path towards greater stability, growth and freedom. China is now a major player on the world stage, its influence on key global balances, be they ecological, economic or financial, not to be denied. It is vital, therefore, for France to work with China on an equal footing and as a true partner.

The comprehensive strategic partnership between France and China is maintained through intensive exchanges of high-level bilateral visits. The Heads of State meet regularly, in the course of State visits (the last reciprocal State visits took place in 2010), official visits or on the margins of international summits. France’s President Hollande met his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, for the first time on 18 June 2012, at a meeting on the margins of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. The two Heads of State laid the groundwork for taking the bilateral relationship to a new level, based on principles of mutual trust and reciprocity. They also took the opportunity to discuss the major international issues of the day.

France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Beijing on 9 and 10 July 2012 at the invitation of his opposite number, Mr. Yang Jiechi. The two men held in-depth discussions on the bilateral relationship and Franco-Chinese coordination on international and global issues. During his visit, Mr. Fabius also met Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Deputy Prime Minister Li Keqiang and State Councillor Dai Bingguo. Mr. Fabius set out three priorities for the development of Franco-Chinese relations: taking the political dialogue to a higher level of trust and intensity, working to redress the balance of economic relations in a spirit of reciprocity, and promoting exchanges at the level of civil society, in particular between young people in France and China. On a trip to Laos for the ASEM summit, the French President had a meeting with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

The intensity of the political dialogue between the two countries is reflected in coordination on key international and global issues (climate change, global economic, financial and monetary governance, regional crises) that is central to Franco-Chinese relations. In all these fields, China is now a global force to be reckoned with. Close coordination enables the two countries to leverage their points of convergence in all the major international fora, and to pursue discussions of points on which they diverge. The inclusion of China as one of the key priorities of France’s presidency of the G20 in 2011 bore witness to the closeness of this coordination.

On the bilateral front, the continuing development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between France and China is reflected in closer cooperation on economic and structural industrial matters, particularly in the aerospace and civil nuclear power sectors, where real partnerships have been formed. This cooperation is based on reciprocity and mutual benefit (win-win). Relations between the two countries are also progressing in new and promising areas, including the environment and sustainable development, agrifood production and financial services.

Updated on 27.03.13

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