France-China ties "especially substantive" - Minister

China – Bilateral relations/Syria/climate – Statements by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, at his joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Wang Yi

Beijing, 31 October 2016

Bilateral relations

I’m very pleased to be here again in Beijing. It’s my second visit since I took office in February, and it’s also my fifth meeting with Wang Yi. We’re now in the habit of talking very regularly about bilateral issues but also about the international issues of common interest which concern us and require these discussions.

As you can see, the French-Chinese relationship is especially substantive. Discussions are held especially regularly between our two heads of state, our heads of government and our ministers. In September I was very pleased to take part in the inauguration of the new Chinese embassy building in France. I wanted to congratulate you once again on that very fine embassy – which matches the excellent bilateral relationship between France and China –, situated in a historic building in the heart of Paris.

Decentralized cooperation

I began this visit to China with a stopover in Chengdu, where I took part in the opening of the fifth French-Chinese meetings on decentralized cooperation. Fifty-five French and Chinese cities and regions are cooperating very actively in many fields: human exchanges between young people, but also at the level of urban policies, which are linked to the Sustainable Cities Project – I’m thinking of transport, energy, homes, water and all issues linked to implementing the Paris Agreement, which cities and regions can do in a variety of ways, even more satisfactorily. We’re encouraging all these many projects, particularly in France. We’re also encouraging Chinese investment in France, which we could develop even further. It’s welcome in cities and regions, as was emphasized during the fifth meetings.

I was also in a region which has a special link with France. I haven’t forgotten it was Sichuan that Deng Xiaoping left in 1920 for France, where he stayed for six years. I’m sure it shaped his life; at any rate, it was an opportunity to recall the role of that great Chinese reformer.

Economic ties

The other important goal of this visit is to help develop economic exchanges. We scored a great success by signing, in London, the contract to build and operate together a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in the United Kingdom. It’s a very good example of what we can do together: win contracts in third markets, and in every sector. It’s a model we’re supporting everywhere, including in Africa and Asia. We’re soon going to set up a new joint fund to make it easier to fund projects of this kind. It’s a good message for Chinese investors in France, Europe and the world, but also a good message for continued French and European investments in China.

We also want to encourage our businesses to explore new fields. In Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong we’ve just created French Tech Hubs that are going to enable young creatives from French and Chinese businesses to meet and forge ties with already-established businesses and investors. As you know, France is a country of start-ups and we’re very pleased to be extending that network to China. Yesterday evening I also met some major Chinese investors. France is Europe’s main recipient of foreign investment in the industrial sector. In China, French businesses are also creating jobs: they’ve created nearly 600,000 of them. We’d like to work together to improve their environment and ensure they can contribute even more to the Chinese economy.

I have a message for everyone wanting to visit France as tourists: they’re welcome, the Chinese are welcome. France, which will be welcoming more than 1.5 million Chinese tourists this year, hopes to welcome more. As you’ve recalled, Minister, it’s set itself an ambitious target of welcoming five million Chinese tourists in 2020. It wants to give itself the means to welcome them in the best conditions, particularly in terms of security.

Asia/Middle East/Africa

Going beyond bilateral relations, we of course discussed all the regional and global issues of mutual interest, doing so in a spirit of responsibility and cooperation as two permanent members of the Security Council.

Admittedly, many subjects have led us recently to have close discussions: there are, of course, the worrying developments in North Korea, regional stability in Asia, the Syria conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Africa. We discuss all these issues and try to bring our views closer together. France particularly appreciated China’s position at the Security Council when we presented a resolution to end the bombing in Syria.

Terrorism

And we also have in common the battle against terrorism. It’s an essential battle which involves all our countries. We would also like to develop further our dialogue and cooperation with China in the area of human rights. Our Human Rights Ambassador will be coming here, to Beijing, in December.

Climate/Paris Agreement ratification

France and China are cooperating increasingly closely today on all the international issues. This doesn’t just mean discussing points of view but acting together and finding solutions. The last G20 summit, chaired by China, was a success firstly for China, but also in its objectives and results, particularly regarding the impetus given to the Paris Agreement on that occasion. China, which, through President Xi Jinping, announced the ratification of the Paris Agreement, boosted the agreement’s implementation, which we are all calling for in the interest of each of our countries, but the planet too.

It’s a good way of working together, working for peace, for world stability and also for our peoples’ prosperity. It’s in this spirit that we work together and hold meetings. Our relations are increasingly close and on a human level I also greatly value working with my colleague and friend, Wang Yi. (…)./.

Published on 11/11/2016

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