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New chapter of head-of-state diplomacy: A resounding call for peace and cooperation

Lu Shaye

New chapter of head-of-state diplomacy: A resounding call for peace and cooperation

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Lu Shaye is China's ambassador to France. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Six decades ago, General de Gaulle defied Western Bloc pressure by establishing diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level between China and France. In his remarks on France and China at his news conference, de Gaulle envisioned, "Indeed it is clear that France must be able to hear China directly and also to make herself heard by China" – an assertion of courage, boldness, and wisdom that resonates globally to this day.

In January, while celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France, President Xi Jinping delivered a video speech and reiterated the "China-France spirit," characterized by independence, mutual understanding, foresight, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

Independence remains the political cornerstone and source of momentum necessary for navigating the bilateral relations. Mutual understanding acts as the guarantee for the two nations to get along and maintain a good relationship. Foresight guides strategic cooperation, enabling the resolution of challenges and differences. Meanwhile, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation define the goal and the direction of Sino-French relations. The practice and persistence of the spirit has put China-France relations at the forefront of China's relations with Western countries, enabling the ties between the two nations to weather the changing international landscapes.

Over the past 60 years, China and France have cultivated fruitful cooperation in many fields, spanning nuclear energy, high-speed railway, aerospace, agriculture, healthcare and more, which have brought tangible benefits to the people of the two countries.

At present, China and France are both at the threshold of a new historical starting point of national development. China is accelerating the creation of a new development pattern and pursuing high-quality development. Key issues confronting China encompass developing new quality productive forces, modernizing its industrial system, revitalizing its rural areas and fostering coordinated regional development. Similarly, France is also grappling with pressing issues, including energy transition, digital transformation and an aging population.

The two sides should expedite cooperation in burgeoning areas such as artificial intelligence, digital economy, green manufacturing, sustainable development and silver economy, and further promote agricultural cooperation represented by "from French farms to Chinese tables." The endeavor will solidify bonds across industrial chains, facilitate capital flows and foster robust personnel exchanges. President Xi's visit is expected to inject new impetus into China-France cooperation in various fields, guiding the two countries to explore new areas and avenues of cooperation in no time.

French President Emmanuel Macron disembarks his presidential plane at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, capital of China, April 5, 2023. /CFP
French President Emmanuel Macron disembarks his presidential plane at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, capital of China, April 5, 2023. /CFP

French President Emmanuel Macron disembarks his presidential plane at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, capital of China, April 5, 2023. /CFP

China and Europe stand as the twin pillars of multipolarity, driving globalization and championing diversity. Engulfed in turmoil, the world needs stable Sino-French and Sino-European relations to anchor peace and development.

At the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron of the Republic of France, President Aleksandar Vucic of the Republic of Serbia, and President Tamas Sulyok and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to France, Serbia and Hungary from May 5 to 10.

During the visit, President Xi Jinping will work with the leaders of France, Serbia and Hungary to steer the healthy development of bilateral relations and China-Europe relations, injecting fresh momentum into expanding and deepening mutually beneficial collaborations.

Looking back at the moments of friendly exchanges between China and France in recent years, we can see that head-of-state diplomacy plays an irreplaceable strategic role as the linchpin of the China-France relationship. When President Emmanuel Macron visited China last year, the two leaders enjoyed a guqin performance, took a sip of tea, reminisced about history and shared insights into the present by the water in the Pine Garden in Guangzhou.

During President Xi's current visit to France, the two leaders will meet on many different occasions and have extensive and in-depth communications on various issues. They will also have extended and intimate discussions in an atmosphere of mutual trust, candor and relaxation. I believe that thanks to the in-depth strategic communication between the two leaders, many important consensuses and major results will be reached this time. After the 2019 Nice talks, April's tea party in the Yuyuan Garden, and the meeting in the Pine Garden, the story of "meeting close friends amidst high mountains and flowing waters" continues to be written and will become the highlight of President Xi's European trip.

Over the span of 60 years, the global landscape as well as China and France have undergone profound transformations. Yet, amidst the ever-changing dynamics, the enduring principles of Charles de Gaulle and the "China-France spirit" still shine brightly. It is imperative for China and France to bear their original aspiration in mind, walking hand in hand and together shouldering great power responsibilities. In doing so, the two nations can issue a resounding call for peace, cooperation and dialogue on the global stage.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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