Prof. Zhao Chen's interview with the Global Times on Hollande's trip to China
French President François Hollande visited China last week, which has drawn wide attention. Has this visit set the foundation for the smooth development of Sino-French relations in the future? Why did trade and economic issues top the agenda? Will the political disagreements of the two countries affect their economic cooperation? Global Times reporter Zhao Nan talked to two experts on these issues.
François Godement, senior policy fellow and head of the China program at European Council on Foreign Relations
The pragmatic and non-ideological terms of the two countries' relationship have been set through Holland's visit to China.
When it comes to some international issues, it is indispensable for the two countries to hold political dialogue.Nonproliferation, energy security, environment, and action for global economic growth are the priorities for France, so it seeks to cooperate with China in these regards.
However, France and China have real divergences over many international problems.
For instance, in dealing with Iranian nuclear problem, China should understand France's stance, if only for geographical reasons. For European countries, including France, it is in their core interest to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
Politics does not affect trade development. As for the development of economic relationships between France and China, the two countries will have broad contacts. China's economic presence in France is growing, while the French government also wants to support its companies in China.
When analyzing the French policy to Asia, "strategic goal" is not a suitable term to describe France's presence in Asia.
It is a traditional concern for France that the international order and multilateral institutions need support from Asia's emerging economies.
Intra-European issues are only one part of the French government's focus. It is clear that France is willing to work with many bilateral relations in Asia.
Zhao Chen, associate research fellow at the Institute of European Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
France's pragmatic aims during Hollande's latest visit were very clear. Paris wants to not only deepen the economic cooperation in the traditional areas with China, but to cooperate across the board.
Therefore, apart from energy and aerospace, the pillar industries of France, the two countries signed a lot of agreements on topics ranging from tourism, environmental protection to urbanization and technical innovation.
Hollande plans to push for greater access to the Chinese market for French charcuterie (prepared meat products), and luxury goods in order to deal with the decreasing demand. He also hopes to show the advantage of French littoral enterprises for China's investment and seize the opportunity of China's economic growth to enlarge the share of French products in China's market.
China and France will continue to benefit from the economic partnership in the future.
However, due to the deep-rooted belief in humanitarian intervention in France, China and France are in diametric opposition to each other in term of some hot international issues.
Although France regards China as an economic partner, it seems difficult for the two countries to conduct effective political dialogue in the future.
France is a major country in Europe, and its presence in Asia has gradually caught the eyes of the world. Asia's development is driving the world forward, and many major powers, including France, have realized that Asia may become the center of the world. Thus, since Hollande became French president, France has been paying more attention to Asian countries.
China needs to be more inclusive and open-minded to accept France's communication and exchanges with other Asian countries. Both China and France want a multipolar world and push for the democratization of international relations. It will be a good thing for Asia and Europe if the relationship between the two continents becomes more balanced and healthier
（Contant Zhao Chen：firstname.lastname@example.org）
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