France-China cooperation needed to tackle global challenges

By Jean-Yves Le Drian Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/23 20:33:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT  

At the invitation of my Chinese counterpart Mr. Wang Yi, November 24 marks the start of my first visit to China as Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of France. I plan to tell everyone I meet of France's desire to form partnerships of trust and reciprocity, just like the mutual interests we already share. Our countries have a long history together in which diplomacy has played a leading role. France was the first major Western country to formally recognize the People's Republic of China in 1964. It was a decision based on the "weight of evidence and reason", to quote General de Gaulle's statement at the time. The future has justified this historic and strategic vision, witnessing over 50 years to continued partnership development.

Our cooperation is industrial and scientific, cultural and academic; it develops in all areas in which France and China assume the mantle of innovative powers, masters of their own destiny, able to shine throughout the world. This is the proof that when our two countries share what they do best, it can be of mutual benefit to both our peoples and nations. It is this global partnership that France therefore wishes to extend to new sectors, in a spirit of equity. I am thinking primarily of the green economy that will transform our lifestyles and production in the face of climatic and environmental urgency.

Our political dialogue and our economic relations are reinforced by meetings and exchanges between our civil societies, whether this means tourism or the choice to study within the excellent French academic system made by many Chinese students. This mutual openness is what the global communications revolution offered by digital technologies has made possible. The fourth session of the Franco-Chinese high-level dialogue on people-to-people exchanges, which I will have the honor of co-chairing with Deputy Prime Minister Madam Liu Yandong, will be an occasion to reaffirm this ambition.

Promoting cooperation and openness on a global level is also something our two countries have in common. This is the best way to face up to transformations and crises across the world. At a time when the integration of the world economy has reached an unprecedented level, and cross-flows of goods, services and people have never been so important, France, like China, defends the principle of openness in the field of trade. But to be beneficial to all parts of our globalized economy, the opening of markets must be reciprocal. In recent years, the Western perception of globalization has changed, whether in France, Europe or the United States. Our citizens are asking us to act in such a way that globalization is fairly and equitably arranged, not just in the commercial sphere, but also in the regulation of financial activities and the redistribution of wealth. For that, we need rules that are clear, respected and implemented by all actors. This is the message conveyed by France in every international forum, such as the last G20 in Hamburg.

It is this sense that is carried by the renewed European ambition we see in our country, that of a sovereign Europe in the economic sector, capable of major collective projects, in industry, new technologies, in terms of investment and innovation. The European Union is China's main economic partner, so we hope that our partnership can also move forward in this framework.

Our respective diplomacies are present all over the world; it is a sign of the global scale of our interests and the conviction that our cultures can contribute to the universal dialogue of civilizations. It is also the expression of the international responsibilities that we assume as permanent members of the UN Security Council. Faced with the tensions and uncertainties that characterise our era, we share the same global conception of security and international stability, the only realist conception for our interdependent world. Despite the geographical distance, France cannot rest indifferent to the threat posed by nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation in North Korea in violation of international law. On this subject, international security involves Pyongyang's return to the negotiating table and its entry into a process similar to that which culminated in the signing of the Vienna Agreement with Iran in 2015. China's support for the latest Security Council resolutions attests to consensus among the permanent members. It demonstrates the need for a multilateral agreement to address security issues whose regional roots must not overshadow global relations. Highly committed to the Middle East and the Sahel, France recognises the reciprocal concerns of China with regard to security crises in these regions, as evidenced by its human and financial commitments to the United Nations, noting in particular its peacekeeping operations.

Our responsibilities are not limited to security issues but extend to all common goods of which we are collectively guarantors. France knows that it can count on the support of China at the International Climate Summit to be held in Paris on December 12 to continue our efforts to implement the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Our joint participation in the launch of the Global Environment Pact last September also expresses our community of views in this area.

We must also be multilaterally creative to respond to the technological and social changes of our time. I am thinking in particular of the digital world and cybersecurity. In this area, we must build a governance system involving state and private actors: companies have a responsibility to take part in digital space protection and stability. Here again, France wishes to act together with China to promote an indispensable regulation for a just and profitable international order for all.

Today, whether it concerns security, the climate, economic exchanges, health or education, coordinated international action is more essential than ever when taking up the global challenges that concern us all. Our responses to international issues need increased cooperation. It is through the promotion of standards and support for a multilateral framework of action that we can guarantee the transparency and predictability of international relations, resolve the crises we face and promote stability and peace.

Beyond my visit, the extremely rich bilateral calendar in the coming weeks and months will give us the opportunity, I hope, to move in this direction for which the strength of our friendship and our shared interests is an asset. 

The author is French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn



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