FRANCE/CHINA/POLITICAL DIALOGUE/STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
Ladies and gentlemen,
Once again, I renew my thanks for the visit President Xi Jinping is paying us in Paris today, because it’s his first visit to Europe and he very much wanted it all to begin with France! We appreciate this, firstly because it’s a sign of confidence in our country. It’s also a reminder of history. Indeed, 50 years ago France was the first to recognize the People’s Republic of China. This visit by President President Xi Jinping comes a year after the one I paid to China at his invitation.
In the past year, the goals we set ourselves have largely been achieved. We wanted to restart the political dialogue between our two countries, which, I remind you, is part of a strategic partnership established in 1997. But it seemed to us that it needed to be given new impetus. The political conditions had changed, the people leading the two countries had also changed and we needed to create a new framework for this strategic partnership.
That’s what we’ve done, particularly through the meetings between the Chinese President and the French President, which we wanted to be annual; through the visit which Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault paid to China; and through the many visits by French ministers, starting with Laurent Fabius, who’s been to China six times. I wanted every government minister to feel involved and to be able to have discussions with their Chinese counterparts.
We’ve also established two new mechanisms. The first concerns economic and financial issues. The first session went ahead in China in November. We’ll also be having a new session in France in 2014.
Finally, the last aspect of this dialogue is a relationship mechanism for exchanges – people-to-people, scientific, academic, cultural etc. President Xi Jinping and I have decided this very day to establish it.
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/CLIMATE CHANGE/FINANCIAL REGULATION
We have political dialogue which isn’t simply bilateral, because China and France sit as permanent members of the Security Council, because France and China are two peaceful powers, and because China and France have common principles for international life and a balanced idea of the world, respectful of everyone’s sovereignty.
So we’re working, and we’re working together, to resolve regional crises, whether it be in the Middle East – with Syria in particular or Iran, with the risk of proliferation – and even recently on Ukraine, where China took a position demonstrating its idea of international life, based on stability and the integrity of borders and states. I also know that China is working for financial stability, particularly in Ukraine.
We’ve wanted the 21st century not to be one of annexation and separatism. Everyone here must understand this. We’ve wanted to focus our discussions on three main areas. The first is the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. France and China are two nuclear powers. But they’re conscious of their responsibility.
They don’t want there to be countries which acquire nuclear weapons and can endanger world peace. That’s true of North Korea and it’s true of Iran.
The second area is security and development in Africa. I thank the Chinese President for the support he provided to France’s mission in Mali and also for its [China’s] very presence in that country. Likewise, I appreciated the message of encouragement during the humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic. China is present in Africa; it invests there. It contributes to development. I’d like France and Africa to be able to work together, because Africa is a continent of the future. We must fight terrorism, but we must also play an active role in the African continent’s development and growth.
Lastly, there’s a third area we share, namely the fight against climate change. China will be more than a partner: it will be an essential player in the success of the climate conference France is going to host at the end of 2015. Admittedly, China has a responsibility. It’s the world’s leading energy consumer. But above all, the Chinese President has made the fight against pollution a priority of his reform strategy.
We know that the protection of the environment is also a lever for growth and that the transition we have to accomplish can also be a way of making our companies cooperate. We’ve given proof of this right here by signing a number of agreements, particularly on transport and sustainable cities.
Finally, our two countries have committed themselves to the same regulation of the planet’s economy. It’s true that China is experiencing impressive growth that isn’t slowing down. So it has a desire to involve other parts of the world in this development. Likewise, France has technologies and industrial capabilities. It also has a head start in a number of fields, and we’re ready to share them. But, in the G20 framework, we also have to shoulder our own responsibilities. China wants to play a heightened role in this, and it can provide an essential contribution to global governance. That’s why France would like China to organize a G20 summit very soon.
TRADE/NUCLEAR/AEROSPACE/AGRIFOODS/URBAN DEVELOPMENT/AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR/INNOVATION/INVESTMENT
We also discussed our bilateral relations at economic and commercial level. We’re aware there’s a situation that must be put right, namely the trade deficit between France and China. We talked about it a year ago. We’re determined to rebalance foreign trade between France and China by increasing it and in no way by reducing French imports and slowing down Chinese exports. What we have to do is further increase our presence in China and nurture the trend of French exports to China.
There are two areas on which we’ve traditionally had excellent cooperation – and you’ve seen proof of it once again –, namely civil nuclear power and aerospace. In this regard, we’ve reached some very important agreements to establish our partnership on a firm basis throughout the civil nuclear industry, from the front end to the back end of the cycle, including the treatment of spent fuel.
In aerospace, it’s not simply in relation to the number of planes, even though it’s very important for China to buy from us. There too, a very significant contract has been concluded. This too is an industrial partnership idea – because we negotiated an agreement on Airbus’s assembly line in Tianjin – which will enable us to develop a regional plane and put new air traffic management technologies in place. This too is a comprehensive agreement. I thank the Chinese President for the confidence he’s again shown in Airbus but also in the helicopters, because a very important contract has been signed.
But beyond these two areas – civil nuclear energy and aerospace – there are new markets opening up, including agrifoods. In particular, on charcuterie and milk, on confectionery and wine, obstacles to access to the Chinese market have been removed thanks to our close cooperation. So at the agrifood level there’s complete confidence between our two countries.
There’s also urban development, sustainable cities and health etc., where for several years companies have cooperated on the new technologies to be used in those areas. Our exports to China went up 7% in 2013, proving already that the process is under way.
But I want to draw attention to a major project put forward through this signing ceremony which illustrates what the Franco-Chinese partnership can be in the future. It isn’t simply about selling, it’s about investing together, forging a partnership between companies which excel in their field. This is what was concluded for the automotive sector through the agreement between Dongfeng, Peugeot and the French state. It is going to allow us to have a global manufacturer and so be present on every market thanks to the excellent cooperation between France and China. This partnership can be proposed in other areas, especially everything concerning the environment and also health.
Finally, to develop innovation between our countries, to increase investment – French investment in China and Chinese in France – we’ve set up a Franco-Chinese joint investment fund, because I’d like there to be more Chinese investment in France. In total, 50 agreements, worth €18 billion, have been signed today.
At a time when our economy is picking up again, at a time when we’re fighting unemployment, at a time when we’ve got to become more competitive, and when I’m launching the Responsibility Pact, it’s very important for us to demonstrate the value of our companies and France’s ability with China to have a partnership at this level. €18 billion of contracts – that means jobs, growth, and above all, major prospects for the coming years.
STUDENT EXCHANGES/TOURISM/48-HOUR VISAS
I want to finish on the third priority of our strategic partnership: dialogue – an essential economic activity – and people-to-people exchanges. There are 35,000 young Chinese people who come to study in France. We can welcome even more. There are 8,000 French people studying in China and we can send more, should China wish.
We also want there to be better learning of Chinese in France and French in China. Above all, we want exchanges to be easier.
This is why I took the decision – and the Foreign Minister ensured this could be done in a very short space of time – to have a procedure whereby visas are issued within 48 hours, so we can welcome more Chinese tourists. We welcomed 1.3 million in 2013. This is very little compared to the 1.3 billion Chinese! You can see how much headway we still have to make! So we have to get ready to ensure that Chinese tourists can be welcomed under the safest and most comfortable conditions and are not left waiting for visas to be issued in order to come and visit France.
On the cultural front, there will be joint decisions to organize exhibitions, here in France – in particular to reveal, in Paris, what was produced under the Han dynasty. China will mount exhibitions of French painters, particularly the Impressionists. But beyond what culture can bring, what language can offer, there’s technological cooperation, that of research – especially in the area of space. Here too, France and China have concluded a very important agreement.
I could go on, because what we embarked on a year ago and are pursuing and developing today is so promising. This means that, 50 years after recognition of the People’s Republic of China, today is recognition of what our friendship can produce for our respective economies, for our cultures and for our visions of the world. More than ever, Franco-Chinese friendship is beneficial to our two countries, and above all invaluable for the entire world. Thank you./.