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State visit to China

State visit to China

Published on April 26, 2010
Interview given by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic, to the “Xinhua” (New China) news agency

Beijing, April 28, 2010


Q. – This is your fourth visit to China; what’s your assessment of the development of relations between France and China? In which areas must the two countries deepen their cooperation and step up their exchanges in the future?

THE PRESIDENT – The partnership between our two countries is comprehensive and strategic. Comprehensive, because it covers every aspect of our relationship; strategic, because China has become an absolutely essential player in the international arena. Today there’s no longer a single important issue we can deal with without you. We need China in order to address the major challenges of the 21st century: the fight against climate change, economic crisis, reform of global governance and also major regional crises. Without you, we won’t succeed. France was a pioneer over 45 years ago when she plumped for China by being among the first to recognize the People’s Republic of China. For me, this still, indeed more than ever before, makes complete sense: it’s why I have made strengthening the Sino-French partnership a priority of our foreign policy. Our two countries have sometimes failed to understand each other. Today these problems are behind us.

You ask me in which areas in particular we have got to step up our exchanges. Together, French and Chinese, we want to go on developing every facet and aspect of our relationship: first politically and diplomatically, by deepening our dialogue on every major international issue; and, secondly, economically, by promoting the development of trade and industrial cooperation between our two countries, as well as opening up new fields of cooperation, as we’re increasingly doing with sustainable development, which today is a priority of the Sino-French strategic partnership. We also want to develop our people-to-people exchanges, by, for example, promoting student mobility, and broaden the scope of our scientific cooperation, and in the training and cultural spheres.

As you can see, we are setting our sights high. This reflects the long-standing, deep friendship uniting our two peoples, and is commensurate with the challenges confronting us in the 21st-century world. This is the purpose of my visit and the one President Hu will pay to France before the end of the year. Both will allow us to take some new decisive steps forward in the Sino-French partnership.


Q. – You will be attending the opening ceremony of the 2010 Shanghai Universal Exhibition, what sort of exhibition are you expecting? What image of herself will France present to the world through her pavilions?

THE PRESIDENT – First, let me tell you how happy I am that this year China is hosting this global event, the Universal Exhibition. From the first day, France fully supported Shanghai’s candidature; we even actively campaigned for your country. France was also the first country to respond positively to the Chinese authorities’ invitation to take part in Shanghai Expo. As you will have understood, for us the choice of China, and of Shanghai, were very important; this is why I wanted to attend the opening ceremony in person.

I know that the Chinese authorities have done an enormous amount of work to make this event an immense success and I don’t doubt that it will be. By adopting the theme “Better city, better life”, you have chosen to make Shanghai 2010 an event resolutely geared to the future. At a time when the number of city dwellers is continually growing in the world, the issues relating to the development of cities, their transformation, changes in the physical environment and relationship between the city and its environment are absolutely key.

How can we adapt cities not only to the new needs, but also the new challenges, particularly environmental protection? How do we rethink the relationship between the town and nature, which must no longer be in conflict, but, on the contrary, work together? These equally enthralling and necessary ideas will be at the heart of this universal exhibition and I want to pay tribute to the organizers of Shanghai 2010 who have made this both clear-sighted and bold choice.

What image will France present of herself at Shanghai Expo? An image true to what she is, to what is the source of her assets and diversity: one of a country committed to its culture, but resolutely geared to the future, modernity and innovation; of a nation proud of its identity and its way of life, but open to the world and the Other. It’s all this that the French pavilion, designed by one of our best architects, Jacques Ferrier, very elegantly embodies.


Q. – The last European Union summit focused on economic coordination between its member countries, against a background of Europe’s growing political and diplomatic integration. What do you think about the European Union’s integration process? How do you see relations between the European Union and China?

THE PRESIDENT – The European Union – this is sometimes forgotten – is first of all a miracle. After centuries of clashes and two world wars, during which the European powers fought each other with unprecedented violence, we, the Europeans, decided definitively to turn the page of wars and rifts and build our future together. That may seem obvious today, but it wasn’t at the time. And for over 50 years, we have constantly strengthened the ties uniting us. Initially economic, Europe has become political. Together, we invented this original, unique construction, in which States, sovereign nations together define their common policies, common projects and common destiny, without sacrificing any of their identity or singularity. What we have done, no other continent, no other world region has done. Quite simply, the European Union has no equivalent in the world.

With the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force on 1 December last year, the EU finally resolved the issue of its institutions. Now we have the wherewithal to act far more effectively. This is what we are going to do, particularly in the economic and trade fields. Accordingly, we are putting in place a genuine European economic government. Europe is going to take its full place in the world. One thing is certain: today more than ever before, Europe knows it is strong only when it is united. Today more than ever before, Europe is conscious of its power and role in the world.

As regards relations between Europe and China, these are fundamental – on the economic level, of course, where trade between our two great economies has grown ever stronger over recent years, but also on the political one. Just over ten years ago, we established a strategic partnership between the European Union and China. The strategic dialogue launched in 2005 also signalled another milestone in the development of the Euro-Chinese partnership, but today I believe we have to go even further by stepping up our dialogue on all the major international issues and giving our cooperation a more concrete, more operational content. Europe and China must work together more, particularly on organizing globalization.


Q. – In the post-crisis period, some signs of recovery seem to signal the end of the global recession, what is your analysis of the global economic situation? You called, in the United States and the Davos forum in Switzerland, for a reform of global governance and financial regulation. What new model do you see for global governance?

THE PRESIDENT – We haven’t yet completely emerged from the crisis, even though the worst is probably behind us. Today all the indicators show that the global economy is moving again. It’s good news, but it mustn’t prevent us from learning all the lessons of this crisis, so that the same causes never again produce the same effects. We must definitively put an end to the irresponsible behaviour which took us to the edge of the precipice. This is why we have created the G20 and why we have launched an unprecedented reform of the international financial system.

First of all, financial regulation. The Washington, London and Pittsburgh summits brought some historic advances. The measures we adopted at the three summits would quite simply have been unimaginable a year and half ago: supervision of all financial establishments, including rating agencies and hedge funds which until then had totally escaped it; unprecedented development of the fight against tax havens; control of pay packages, particularly traders’ bonuses, which must no longer encourage excessive risk-taking. We have also launched the reform of accounting and prudential standards, which hadn’t prevented the crisis and had even accentuated its effects.

On all these matters, we have to pursue our efforts looking ahead to the forthcoming G20s in Toronto and Seoul. First of all, by ensuring that the decisions taken are properly implemented and the reforms set in train pursued. Secondly, by ensuring that our growth strategies are coordinated. This will mean having the courage to talk about a number of factors today increasing global imbalances – I’m thinking for example of commodity prices and the international monetary system. We must be able to discuss these issues, but we must do so openly and constructively, making them themes of cooperation rather than confrontation. This is in all our interests. I would like the French presidency of the G8 and G20 in 2011 to see progress on all these issues.

The G20 also set in train the revamping of the instruments of economic governance, particularly that of the major international financial institutions of the IMF and World Bank. This process too must be extended and broadened; it’s only the first stage of a more comprehensive reform of global governance as a whole, which can’t wait any longer. We are in the 21st century and operating with 20th-century institutions, everyone can clearly see that this is no longer viable. Global governance has to be reformed to take account of the new global realities and balances, particularly by giving the place they deserve to the major emerging powers, with of course at the forefront China, but also India, Brazil and South Africa as well. This is why France wanted the creation of the G20 and is arguing strongly for a reform of the United Nations Security Council.


Q. – As economic globalization increases, the emerging markets represented by the “BRIC” countries are playing a growing role in the international arena. What’s your response to this exceptional development? For the European States, including France, is economic globalization a threat or an opportunity?

THE PRESIDENT – I have never been among those afraid of the emergence of the new powers of China, India, Russia and Brazil. On the contrary, I believe that your development, like that of all the major emerging countries, presents an opportunity for the world.

As I have always said: China, India, Brazil, you aren’t tomorrow’s great powers; you are already great powers. So much the better, since you have a great deal to contribute to the world. In the 21st century, it’s quite simply unrealistic to hope to address the immense challenges confronting our world without you. This is why reforming global governance is both necessary and urgent.

But great power status also means more responsibilities, in every sphere: political, economic, environmental and security, etc. And I have confidence in these countries leaders’ ability to fully take on board the responsibility now incumbent on them for what happens in the world./.

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