China-France relations withstand test of turbulent world, ‘stabilizer’ for EU struggles in China policy
Cooperation sets example for EU in struggles to deal with China
Published: Dec 20, 2022 09:55 PM Updated: Dec 20, 2022 09:52 PM
China France File photo: cnsphoto

China France File photo: cnsphoto

China-France relations have withstood the test of global changes and the meeting of the two top leaders in Bali further advanced mutual understanding and mutual trust, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, as he spoke highly of the bilateral relationship. 

Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks during his virtual meeting with Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Catherine Colonna on Monday, from which observers hail the common interests China and France share on a strategic level and the potential of the bilateral relationship in stabilizing China-EU ties. 

Observers believe the two diplomats may have discussed the arrangements for French President Emmanuel Macron’s reported visit to China next month, which is expected to further advance bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership.

During the Monday meeting, Wang said that thanks to the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, China-France relations have withstood the test of changes and chaos, maintained overall stability, and showed a positive momentum of development against the backdrop of a complex international situation, rising geopolitical tensions and mounting downturn pressure in the global economy in the past year. 

China is willing to work with France to conduct closer high-level exchanges, strengthen planning and design and enhance the stability and predictability of China-France relations, Wang said.

The foreign minister also stressed that China attaches great importance to France's status as a core power of the EU, appreciates France's adherence to the EU's strategic autonomy, and is willing to strengthen strategic communication with France to send a joint China-France message on global challenges and regional hotspot issues.

Colonna said France is willing to work with China to prepare well for the high-level exchanges between the two sides in the next stage, plan and formulate a cooperation roadmap, and consolidate and deepen the good momentum in France-China comprehensive strategic partnership, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday that China-France exchanges are important in three aspects: it is a dialogue between one civilization in the East and one in the West, it is cooperation of two pillars of the UN Security Council amid a turbulent world and it is a leading force in shaping a China-EU relationship resilient to US disturbance. 

Currently, there are widening rifts inside Europe. Voices claiming that a “China threat” exists and calls for enhancing transatlantic ties and decoupling with China are frequently heard. 

China has a pragmatic view – China hopes that China-France cooperation based on mutual respect and the principles of mutual benefit can set an example of benign interactions and be a rebuttal to such claims, Wang Yiwei said. 

Li Haidong, a professor from the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Global Times that Macron’s visit to the US only reaffirmed Washington’s determination of “America first,” as the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act, a $369 billion package for green industry that offers huge subsidies for US-made products, could drain investment out of the EU and into the US. 

The French leader, confronting great pressure of investment and industry outflow, would see enhanced cooperation with China as a pragmatic approach to handle the problem, analysts said. 

Wang Yiwei in particular pointed out Colonna’s recognition of Chinese modernization, which was elaborated at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. 

Colonna said during the meeting with Wang Yi that France is optimistic and is willing to help China en route to Chinese modernization.

On the strategic level, how China will promote “high-standard, institutional opening-up,” as the Party Congress specified, is what France is interested in, Wang Yiwei said. 

For concrete cooperation, analysts believe space and new energy are highlights at the moment among wide-ranging fields of cooperation. 

The two countries held the second carbon neutrality cooperation summit in Shanghai on December 12, where representatives from governments, enterprises, social organizations and higher education institutions exchanged experience and insights on carbon reduction and dealing with climate change.

On December 8, the two sides held a forum on space cooperation, and according to media reports, China’s Chang’e-6 lunar mission would carry scientific instruments from France among other countries on the lander.