France cannot restore greatness by closing its doors

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/7 0:18:39

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday officially launched her bid to become the country's next president. Inspired by US President Donald Trump, she blasted globalization while vowing to put "France First" in her election manifesto.

The 48-year-old candidate envisions a thriving nation with its own borders, independent currency and free from the control of Brussels. However, while her promises are hailed by French far-right forces, they are also questioned by many - does she only want to take France's sovereignty back, or actually restore the nation's former glory?

Charles de Gaulle had once said "France cannot be France without greatness." In a long period after the end of WWII, the country made enough achievements to call itself "great." It once built the world's fastest high-speed trains, the world's first supersonic passenger plane, and the most advanced nuclear power plant. Yet when today's younger generations talk about "made in France," they would more likely think of luxuries, delicacies and art.

How can France restore its greatness again? Today's France is the world's fifth-largest economy. Both its GDP and military power are in the world's top 10 list. However, it is suffering from 10 percent unemployment rate, over 3 percent budget deficit, about 60 billion euros ($81.60 billion) of trade deficit and a ballooning public debt. Reports show that over 2 million French people are now living abroad and an increasing number of talents and elites prefer to look for opportunities overseas. When it comes to reforms, French people are reluctant to embrace anything that might affect their interests. 

If France's previous glory came from its creativity, imagination and tolerance to diversity, unfortunately, these advantages are being squeezed by political correctness. Far right forces believe that they have found hope in Brexit and Trump, who articulated the problems brought by globalization. But the solution put forward by Trump is regrettably wrong.

While globalization created great wealth for the world, it also brought quite a few puzzles along. But globalization itself is not wrong. According to Business France, a national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, the country is ranked third among the world's top 100 global innovators, and first in Europe. In addition, tourism brings France around 2 million jobs both directly and indirectly. These achievements couldn't be accomplished without globalization.

What France needs is not closing its doors, but reforms to face up to its challenges. Otherwise, its domestic problems cannot be resolved, nor is it the path toward making France great again.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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