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China and France enhance mutual opening-up

Ma Linhe

Editor's note: Ma Linhe is an assistant researcher at the Institute of European Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN. It has been translated from Chinese and edited for brevity and clarity.

In November 2023, China and France announced measures to streamline visa processes. 

According to statistics, since China tried out a unilateral visa-free policy in December last year, around 147,000 people from countries in the visa-free scheme, including France, entered China by January 9 this year. The people-to-people exchanges between China and Europe are gradually resuming and heating up.

Facilitating personnel exchanges between China and other countries is a significant initiative to supporting high-quality development and high-level opening up in the new era. 

Firstly, it is conducive to stimulating the tourism market, promoting growth in service trade exports and foreign exchange income. This, in turn, drives the recovery and development of related industries, especially the services sector. 

Secondly, it helps advance technological innovation, facilitating communication and collaboration between businesses from both sides. It works to break down protectionist barriers such as "decoupling" and "small yard, high fence" with increasingly closer economic ties. 

Lastly, it is beneficial for establishing an international image, showcasing China's unwavering determination and confidence in promoting opening up. It further allows people to engage in business, study, or travel to each other's countries in order to deepen their objective understanding of each other so that they can become "ambassadors" for the promotion of Sino-foreign friendships.

Historically, people-to-people exchanges have served as a "bridge connecting the hearts" and a "stabilizer" between the two great civilizations of China and France. During the Cold War, the increasingly active non-governmental interactions laid a solid foundation for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. Before the pandemic, China and France stood as each other's major trading partners, destinations for studying abroad, and tourist destinations.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France, and both countries are racing to prepare for a diverse range of celebration activities. It is believed that with the continuously expanding positive effects of the streamlined visa process, the friendship between the people of both countries, which has lasted for centuries, will elevate to new heights.

(Cover via CFP)

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