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Madame Gao Yuanyuan: France Keen on BRI

Volume 4, 2017

Minister-Counsellor (Commercial), Chinese Embassy to France

~ Paris, July 11

“France is an influential power both in Europe and worldwide. Since the establishment of diplomatic relationship 53 years ago, friendly relations and cooperation between China and France have been deepening and our bilateral relations are also at their best ever. All parties in France are keenly interested in Sino-French cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). During President-elect Macron’s telephone call with President Xi Jinping, he expressed his hope to work with China to strengthen pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the BRI.

China and France have good prospects for development as partners in important fields. In 2016, bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded USD47 billion. China is France’s largest trading partner in Asia and France is China’s fourth largest trading partner in the EU. In 2016, China’s direct investment in France’s non-financial sectors reached USD395 million, an increase of 42.3% over the same period last year. A number of excellent Chinese-funded enterprises such as CIC and Dongfeng – who are forerunners of Chinese enterprises going global and in making investment in France – have emerged.

A few days ago the [current] presidents of China and France met for the first time in Hamburg, Germany. Both sides attach great importance to all-round strategic partnership and cooperation between the two countries and unanimously decided to strengthen cooperation in all fields such as economy, trade and investment as well as continue to expand and enhance their areas of common interest. President Macron has also accepted President Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit China by the end of 2017 or early 2018. The strategic relationship between China and France has been further strengthened; the statements made by the two presidents have laid a good foundation for the future development of Sino-French economic and trade cooperation and investment cooperation. I believe there will be the opening of a new chapter in Sino-French cooperation in the future. I also hope that the cooperation between China and France will set a good example for, and make a significant contribution to, expanding China-EU trade, promoting two-way investment and achieving a high level of mutual benefit.

During the four years since the BRI was put forth, it has not only been welcomed by all countries along the route, but has increasingly [earned] the consensus of most countries in the world. In May 2017, President Macron sent [former Prime Minister of France Jean-Pierre] Raffarin, ‘an old friend of the Chinese people’ as his special envoy to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road summit on international cooperation and to present his personal letter to President Xi Jinping, expressing France’s willingness to participate in the BRI and in promoting the deepening of bilateral relations.

The BRI is an important opportunity for Sino-French cooperation in the 21st Century, and also an attempt to solve the major problems which the world faces. With the development of economic globalisation, the world today has also become a community of [shared] human destiny where everyone is deeply involved and mutually dependent. To promote the development of the BRI is an attempt to find a final solution for the aforesaid problems through focusing on development, and through the Five Measures: policy coordination, connectivity through infrastructural projects, trade facilitation, financial integration, and people-to-people ties.

At present, global economic growth is sluggish, and protectionism prevalent. In contrast, the BRI always adheres to the principle of opening up and is committed to maintaining and developing an open world economy. France opposes trade protectionism and, with China, can work together to promote economic globalisation in line with being more inclusive.

One important role played by the Chinese embassy in France is the promoting of communication between our two countries. My colleagues and I are willing to serve the people of both countries wholeheartedly and make unremitting efforts for the further development of Sino-French bilateral cooperation. I also sincerely hope that the Chinese and French friends here [at this event] will seize this opportunity which the BRI provides, to help promote economic and trade cooperation between China and France to a higher level.”