China, France cel­e­brate 50 years of unique ties

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Jan 27 marks the 50th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic ties be­tween the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the Repub­lic of France. Be­ing the first be­tween China and a Western power, China-France ties have de­vel­oped be­yond or­di­nary bi­lat­eral ties.

The two coun­tries’ soft power and in­ter­ac­tions have played a key role in the de­vel­op­ment of this bi­lat­eral ties. Both have rich cul­tural his­to­ries and made huge con­tri­bu­tions to po­lit­i­cal thought, lit­er­a­ture, art and tech­nol­ogy.

Chi­nese peo­ple have long been in­ter­ested in French lit­er­a­ture and cul­ture. Through the works of Vic­tor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, Gus­tav Flaubert, Alexan­dre Du­mas and Emile Zola, Chi­nese peo­ple have gained a deeper knowl­edge of France and French cul­ture than other Euro­pean coun­tries.

The French have a tra­di­tion of learn­ing from Chi­nese cul­ture, too. Si­nol­ogy flour­ished in Paris as early as the 17th cen­tury. And Chi­nese cul­ture has at­tracted greater at­ten­tion in France with the rise of China in the re­cent decades.

It was cul­tural in­ter­ac­tion, which be­gan long be­fore world his­tory en­tered the con­tem­po­rary era, that laid the foun­da­tion of China-France friend­ship. The friend­ship was boosted by France’s soft power and in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy, which prompted Paris to es­tab­lish diplo­matic ties with Bei­jing in 1964 dur­ing the Cold War, when the United States and its Western al­lies viewed China as an enemy. France’s bold ges­ture was wel­comed and re­cip­ro­cated by China.

The poli­cies of for­mer French pres­i­dent Charles de Gaulle have been fol­lowed by al­most all the ad­min­is­tra­tions af­ter him. Fol­low­ing those poli­cies, for­mer pres­i­dents Jac­ques Chirac and Ni­co­las Sarkozy, and cur­rent Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande have de­vel­oped or strength­ened strate­gic re­la­tions with China.

France’s soft power also pro­moted new think­ing that played a vi­tal role in in­te­grat­ing Europe into an eco­nomic union. Start­ing from the 1950s, France was the main pro­pel­ler of Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion, and its role in the for­ma­tion and de­vel­op­ment of the Euro­pean Union is para­mount.

Af­ter the end of the Cold War, France raised the idea of “a mul­ti­po­lar world”, em­pha­siz­ing the role of the United Na­tions in pro­mot­ing di­a­logue to end con­fronta­tions and re­solve con­flicts. That echoed the for­eign pol­icy of China and helped the two coun­tries to work to­gether to the ben­e­fit of the en­tire in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

As two per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, China and France have played a co­or­di­nated role in main­tain­ing world peace and op­pos­ing hege­mony. And the sim­i­lar­i­ties in their for­eign poli­cies have pushed their ties for­ward.

Fifty years of friend­ship is am­ple ev­i­dence that China and France have solid cul­tural foun­da­tions. France and China both are pay­ing more at­ten­tion to strength­en­ing their soft power which hope­fully will fur­ther con­sol­i­date their re­la­tions. The au­thor is a re­searcher at the World Af­fairs Re­search Center, Xin­hua News Agency.

The opin­ions ex­pressed on this page do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of China Daily North Amer­i­can edi­tion.

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