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'Emergence' of nation seen as an opportunity

2014-03-26 09:40 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

President Xi Jinping's three-day visit to France this week will create a significant opportunity for leaders from Beijing and Paris to strengthen ties and rebalance economic relations, a senior French diplomat said.  [Special coverage]

Martine Aubry, the French Foreign Ministry's special representative for the partnership with China, said Xi and French President Francois Hollande are expected to expand political dialogue, advance economic ties and encourage more cultural exchanges.

She said mutual trust is vital for France and China to strengthen bilateral relations. Xi began his state visit to France on Tuesday after attending the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

"This climate of trust must be maintained through high-quality political dialogue between the leaders of our two countries. We must avoid ambiguity and misunderstandings and maintain a stable, tranquil relationship, which is what our two presidents are set on doing."

Aubry said reforms being carried out by China's top leadership and the country's growing influence globally will create myriad cooperative opportunities in Europe.

"We regard China's rapid development in recent years as a fantastic opportunity to increase cooperation in all sectors and in tackling major global issues."

She identified three major challenges for China: food safety and quality, urban development and healthcare. These are areas in which China and France should work more closely, she said.

"No one can remain indifferent to the impressive change that China has undergone. Personally, I want to understand how this shift took place and how China will tackle the new challenges facing it."

A frequent traveler to China, Aubry has seen the country's reforms unfold since she was appointed to her current position after Hollande was elected president in May 2012. She is also the current mayor of Lille, the largest city in northern France.

"The emergence of China is an opportunity," she says. "Its growing role in the international arena and in global governance goes hand in hand with the new responsibilities that France has been encouraging it to assume.

"In fact, China has stepped up to its responsibilities by continually increasing its involvement in the United Nations."

She said Beijing and Paris should work more closely together on international issues because both countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

She also said that strengthening Sino-French economic relations must start with an analysis of each other's needs.

"We must look beyond the traditional strategic sectors of nuclear energy and aeronautics and update our understanding of the needs of Chinese consumers and the sectors where French companies can satisfy Chinese demand."

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