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Twenty-second Ambassadors’ Conference /Asia

Published on August 29, 2014
Opening speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Paris, August 28, 2014

First of all Asia, where growth is strongest.

2014 was the year of the 50th anniversary of France’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese were very committed to it. We welcomed President Xi Jinping. He himself welcomed me to China. We signed important agreements worth €18 billion. We still have a deficit of more than €25 billion with China. So there’s a gap! That’s what we made clear. Rebalancing foreign trade isn’t an administrative decision, but it means our having a dialogue with China and the ability to offer technology, investment, competitiveness…

We also have a relationship of trust with India. The handover of power has changed nothing. We’ve established a programme of work with the new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. We’re confident of a number of contracts. I invited him to come to Paris between now and the end of the year.

With Japan, too, we’ve ensured trust exists. I paid a state visit in June 2013 and I welcomed Prime Minister Abe in May 2014. We consolidated partnerships in the political field – particularly on defence and democracy – and on civilian nuclear energy, a highly sensitive issue. We ensured high-level cooperation regarding the consequences of Fukushima.

But I want to go further; we must work with all the countries in the region. I’m going to mention them all, because they’re all important: South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma, Mongolia, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. I don’t want to sideline any country, and I’m going to ask all the members of the government to pay a number of visits. I’m asking the ambassadors to organize them.

As you know, I myself will be going to Australia in the framework of the G20. I’ll be paying a visit to that country, where no French President has been. Why do I say that? Not because I’m surrendering to a fashion for the Asia-Pacific region, where tomorrow’s growth will be, but because there’s a population there, a dynamism and also a challenge. Moreover, France’s image in those countries is good, not to say excellent. There’s a demand for French culture and products. (…)./.

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