China-France: Partners in Global Peace

Our interactions in the long course of history have released tremendous energy swaying the trajectory of the world. Now we are standing at another historical starting point.

5 mins read
People welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in Paris, France, May 5, 2024. Xi arrived here Sunday for a state visit to France. (Xinhua/Lu Ye)

A signed article by Chinese President Xi Jinping titled “Carrying Forward the Spirit that Guided the Establishment of China-France Diplomatic Relations, Working Together for Global Peace and Development” was published Sunday in French media Le Figaro.

The following is an English version of the full text of the article:

Carrying Forward the Spirit that Guided the Establishment of China-France Diplomatic Relations, Working Together for Global Peace and Development

Xi Jinping, president of the People’s Republic of China

I am delighted to pay my third state visit to France at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron.

France holds a special fascination for us Chinese. This country has produced a galaxy of philosophers, writers, and artists with global appeal who have inspired all humanity. Over 150 years ago, French nationals helped China found its Fujian Navy Yard and the Fujian Naval Academy. France was also the first country to welcome government-sponsored students from China. A century ago, a number of young Chinese traveled to France for further education. Some of these young patriots went on to make remarkable contribution to the founding and development of New China. France was also the first major Western country to enter into formal diplomatic ties with New China.

The year 2024 is of special significance. I will visit France bringing with me three messages from China.

— China will work with France to carry forward the spirit that guided the establishment of their diplomatic ties, build on past achievements and open new vistas for China-France relations.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of China-France relations. Six decades ago, General Charles de Gaulle, with a strategic vision based on the trend of the time, resolved to establish diplomatic relations with New China. It wasn’t easy to make this independent decision at the height of the Cold War, but it has proven to be right and foresighted. With the establishment of China-France relations, a bridge of communication between the East and West was built, and the international relations were able to evolve in the direction of dialogue and cooperation.

In these six decades, China-France relations have stayed abreast of the times. Our two countries took the lead in establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership and launching institutional strategic dialogue in China’s relations with Western countries. We spearheaded cooperation in aviation and nuclear energy and on third-party markets. We were among the first to mutually open cultural centers and start cultural year activities, providing guidance for mutual learning between civilizations. China-France cooperation contributed to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, boosting strongly the implementation of the global climate agenda.

History is our best teacher. We live in a world that is far from being tranquil and is once again facing a multitude of risks. China is ready to work with France in the spirit that guided the establishment of our diplomatic ties to forge a stronger comprehensive strategic partnership between our two countries and make new contributions to stronger cooperation of the global community.

— China will open even wider to the world and deepen cooperation with France and other countries.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Through 75 years of perseverant hard work, the Chinese people have turned China from an impoverished country into the second largest economy in the world. Several hundred million people in rural areas were lifted out of poverty, a miracle in the history of humanity. The Chinese economy registered 5.2 percent growth in 2023, and is expected to grow by around 5 percent in 2024 with greater progress toward high-quality development. China will remain a source of global growth and create opportunities for all countries.

One thing that has made China’s development possible is our firm commitment to opening up. We welcome more quality French farm products and cosmetics to the Chinese market to meet the ever-growing needs of the Chinese people for a better life. We welcome investment by companies from France and other countries to China. To this end, we have fully opened up China’s manufacturing sector, and will move faster to expand market access to telecom, medical and other services. We also have a 15-day visa-exemption policy for visitors from many countries including France, and we have taken further measures to facilitate travel and payment by foreigners in China.

While opening up itself, China also encourages Chinese companies to go global. France is advancing re-industrialization based on green innovation, whereas China is accelerating the development of new quality productive forces. Our two countries can deepen cooperation on innovation and jointly promote green development. Some Chinese companies have set up battery plants in France. The Chinese government supports more Chinese companies in investing in France. And we hope that France will ensure that they operate in a fair and equitable business environment.

— China will strengthen communication and coordination with France to uphold world peace and stability.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Seven decades ago, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai put forth in full the five principles for the first time — “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.” Through 70 years, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence have been widely accepted and recognized by countries across the world. They have become an important norm governing contemporary international relations.

China has faithfully practiced the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Over the past 70-plus years since its founding, New China never provoked a war or occupied an inch of foreign land. China is the only country around the world that includes in its Constitution the commitment to the path of peaceful development, and China is the only country among the major nuclear-weapon states that is committed to no-first-use of nuclear weapons.

I have proposed in recent years the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative. As part of China’s efforts to help improve global governance and resolve tough question regarding human development, the three initiatives have won the support of more than 100 countries and international organizations.

China understands the repercussions of the Ukraine crisis on the people of Europe. China did not start the Ukraine crisis, nor is it a party to or a participant in it. Nonetheless, China has been playing a constructive role in striving for peaceful settlement of the crisis. I have made many appeals, among others, observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and addressing the legitimate security concerns of all sides. I have stressed that nuclear weapons must not be used, and a nuclear war must not be fought. China has delivered to Ukraine many shipments of humanitarian aids, and sent its special representative many times to mediate among the countries concerned. The longer the Ukraine crisis drags on, the greater harm it will do to Europe and the world. China hopes that peace and stability will return to Europe at an early date. We stand ready to work with France and the whole international community to find a reasonable way out of the crisis.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict pulls on our heartstrings as well. The fundamental solution lies in the establishment of an independent State of Palestine. History has repeatedly shown that the recurrent Palestine-Israel problem is rooted essentially in the failure of actual enforcement of relevant UN resolutions, in the continued erosion of the foundation for the two-State solution, and the deviation of the Middle East peace process. China and France have many in common on the Palestine-Israel issue. It is thus critical that we strengthen cooperation and help restore peace in the Middle East.

Confucius observed that “a man of true moral integrity is one who is both friendly but independent, and who does not compromise his principles, and who is independent without any bias or taking sides. How unflinchingly firm he is in his strength!” French writer Romain Rolland said that “it is so much easier to allow oneself to be guided than it is to think for oneself. This abdication is the kernel of the mischief.” Both China and France value independence as two major countries. Our interactions in the long course of history have released tremendous energy swaying the trajectory of the world. Now we are standing at another historical starting point. Let us join hands together on this new journey toward greater progress in China-France relations to the benefit of our two countries and the world!

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China

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