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Visit to China

Published on August 30, 2011
Press conference given by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Beijing, August 25, 2011

CHINA/G20/ECONOMY/EURO

THE PRESIDENT – Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. (…)
I’ve had a long working meeting with President Hu, the Vice-Premier, the Foreign Minister and the central bank governor. The main purpose of that working meeting was to prepare for the G20 summit in Cannes in November.

We noticed our views corresponded very closely to those of China, in terms of our assessment of the international economic situation and the future necessity of coordinating the G20 members’ economic policies so as to take initiatives to strengthen growth worldwide, in a manner appropriate to the situation in each of the economies concerned. It goes without saying that, in the context of this initiative, China has a frontline role to play, as the world’s second-largest economy, as the world’s most highly-populated country and as a monetary power since the emergence of the yuan.

We wanted to listen to China’s calls regarding the stimulation of the global economy, and we wanted to ask them about certain subjects that will be high on the news agenda in the coming weeks, months and maybe even years. I want to mention the key points of China’s continued effort to increase domestic demand. (…)

The second extremely important subject is the reform of the international monetary system. As you know, it’s a major subject and the French [G20] presidency attaches great importance to it.

I came to Nanjing a few months ago to open the [G20] seminar, in the presence of the Chinese Vice-Premier, as it happens. We’ve made a lot of progress since then. I mean that our positions have come closer, and one of our goals, of course – because we believe it’s unavoidable – is the convertibility of the yuan. We’re very much in agreement with our Chinese friends on the subject, because they too are ultimately in favour of that convertibility, which would reflect the yuan’s full importance on the international monetary stage. So we hope to make progress on defining a path that would ultimately make it possible – through an appropriate process, without rushing things – to see the yuan incorporated into the SDRs [Special Drawing Rights], which would make it possible to create a real reserve currency in the world and to give the yuan its rightful international dimension.

We also discussed ways of broadening the IMF’s ability to support countries with problems of capital. (…)

China is a partner who can’t be ignored, an interlocutor we trust. So it was natural to accord her special treatment by coming here, a few weeks before the G20 summit, to talk to China’s top leaders to ensure that there are no misunderstandings and we can move forward in the right direction.

I’ll have the same sort of discussions with President Obama on 22 September to finalize the preparations for the G20 summit, and I’ll also have a number of meetings with the Brazilian President, the Indian Prime Minister and the countries whose support we’ll need to ensure the G20 summit is conclusive. (…)

Q. – During the conversation, were you able to gauge the extent to which the Chinese leaders are concerned about a debt crisis in Europe? Did you have to reassure them, for example, by presenting a French-style austerity plan? Did you ask them to buy more European sovereign bonds?

THE PRESIDENT – (…) President Hu isn’t worried about the situation in the Euro Area. You’re very familiar with China and you know that President Hu himself has made some extremely definitive statements about his confidence in the Euro Area and the euro, and I said how completely and irreversibly determined Chancellor Merkel and France are to defend the euro and argue that the existence of the euro is non-negotiable. I told President Hu that Germany and France were unwaveringly committed to defending the euro. (…) I didn’t have to ask President Hu to invest in euros since, given the level of the euro, they don’t need me to tell them that it’s a good option for them. (…)

CHINA/SYRIA

Q. – We haven’t talked about Syria. Did you yourself talk about Syria? Do you get the impression that there’s been a change on the part of the Chinese?

THE PRESIDENT – Yes, we talked about the huge concern over the situation in Syria, and my Chinese partner – whose traditional positions of non-interference everyone knows – expressed, despite everything, genuine concern about a course of action we ourselves have condemned absolutely clearly. President Bashar al-Assad had made commitments on reform and openness which haven’t been honoured; and as regards the region’s stability – and as you know, the word “stability” is important here in China – it’s indisputable that a regime which responds to its people’s concerns by sending in the army can only be a source of concern.

Thank you everyone./.

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