By Peng Dawei, Zhao Li
(ECNS) -- French mayors have highlighted cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and France as significant in bilateral relations when interviewed by ECNS in Suzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province on Monday.
The mayors, who went to attend the 5th China-France Cultural Forum, shared insights on the upcoming 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France, the China-France Cultural Tourism Year, and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Jean-François Copé, mayor of Meaux, believes that the decision to establish the bilateral ties 60 years ago was a fantastic vision of the future. “After 60 years, we see high levels of development of China, and the fantastic prospect in its economic, social, and technological development,” he said.
Copé emphasized that the bilateral links on education, culture added momentum to the economy and finance. “I'd like to say that we are impatient to live 2024 because of the Olympic Games, but also because of this specific celebration of our links,” he said.
Philippe Augier, the mayor of Deauville, pointed out that cultural and human exchanges play a crucial role in the development of China-French relations, and that culture means a lot to tourism.
As a famous tourist city in France, Deauville is committed to combining culture and tourism to attract more Chinese tourists who love French culture, according to the mayor.
Augier introduced that in 2024, Deauville will host the sixth China-France Cultural Forum and also accommodate nearly 300 Chinese athletes and staff preparing for the Paris Olympics. In his view, this is also an opportunity to expand the bridge of friendship between the two countries.
Benoît Digeon, the mayor of Montargis, recognized the indelible connection forged between Montargis and China through the Chinese Work-Study Movement in France.
The current interactions between cities in both countries also contribute to the bilateral friendship. On Nov. 9, 2023, Guang'an City in southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Montargis signed a memorandum of understanding to establish friendly cooperation. Digeon expressed a warm welcome to Chinese tourists.
The 5th China-France Cultural Forum is co-hosted by the Western Returned Scholars Association (Overseas-educated Scholars Association of China) and Fondation Prospective & Innovation.
The forum aims to promote the exchange and mutual appreciation of civilizations, facilitate dialogue among people in cultural and art circles, and explore new opportunities and paths of cultural collaboration between China and France.