For China-France relations, the best is yet to come
Since establishing diplomatic relations 55 years ago, China and France have provided the world a model of friendship featuring mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
In recent years, unilateralism and populism have been on the rise globally. The flow of global trade and the existing world order have taken a hard hit. China and France, as well as the whole of Europe, must remain steadfast in upholding multilateralism and tackling global challenges.
China has long been an advocate for multilateralism on the global stage, actively promoting multilateral cooperation through such programs as the Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing and Paris have also kept their promises to contain global warming despite Washington’s departure from the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Deepening pragmatic cooperation and abandoning zero-sum games are key to enriching China’s relations with France and Europe. Over the past several decades, bilateral win-win cooperation has been evident in the development of nuclear power, aerospace and automaking. Trade between China and the European Union in the first half of 2018 exceeded US$322.5 billion, up 13 percent year on year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.
China and France are set to expand collaboration in such fields as agriculture, energy, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence, said China’s Ambassador to France Zhai Jun recently.
Furthermore, bilateral ties are expected to receive a boost, with Beijing pledging to carry on with an even bolder reform and opening-up policy.
Last year, China unveiled a shortened negative list for foreign investment to broaden market access, cutting the number of items down to 48 from 63. In the meantime, the overall tariff rate on imported goods was lowered from 9.8 percent to 7.5 percent. China has also been taking steps to open up its financial and service sectors.
Moreover, the BRI has provided Europe exciting new opportunities. As of August 2018, China Railway Express has set off more than 10,000 trains, reaching 43 cities in 15 European countries.
The BRI embodies solidarity, mutual trust, inclusiveness and a disposition to learn from each other, and China’s grand infrastructure and connectivity initiative to drive global development is catching on in Europe.
As a Chinese saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And reads one French proverb, “Little by little, the bird makes its nest.” Enriching China’s ties with France and Europe requires patience and perseverance. As long as all sides are willing to meet each other halfway, the possibilities are endless, no matter how long and rough the road may be.