Hu’s Visit Injects New Life into China-France Relations

Xinhua News reports on President Hu Jintao’s three-day visit to France:

With Hu’s three-day visit to France, which started on Thursday, the heads of state and top legislators of the two countries have visited each other within one year for the first time.

Earlier this year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Bernard Accoyer, speaker of the French National Assembly, both visited China. Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo has also visited France recently.

It is rare in history to see such frequent exchanges between leaders of the two countries.

It is also remarkable that Hu will meet Sarkozy at least five times during his current stay in France, and the two leaders will hold in-depth consultation on issues concerning bilateral ties and major global affairs.

According to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the two leaders had a limited discussion of human rights. From Telegraph:

Asked whether the two had talked about human rightssaid he had brought up the subject of human rights during a meeting in Nice on friday., Mr Sarkozy replied: “Of course. President Hu Jintao is someone you can talk to.”

Mr Sarkozy was speaking to reporters as he arrived at a restaurant in the French Riviera city of Nice for a dinner with Mr Hu, who is on the second day of a state visit to seal a reconciliation after diplomatic strains in recent years.

Activists and political opponents had criticised Mr Sarkozy for not speaking up in favour of the jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize last month in a move that enraged Beijing.

“France wants to move things forward. To do that we have to talk about these matters without taboos,” Mr Sarkozy said, outside the chic restaurant La Petite Maison near the palm-lined Nice seafront.

“We have values to uphold and we do so with respect for others, understanding that they have a different culture, that they have had further to come (in terms of human rights) and that they should be encouraged to move towards openness.”

Sarkozy also mentioned positive dialogue regarding economic reforms. From Reuters:

France and China have reached a “real convergence” over the need to reform the global financial system, President Nicolas Sarkozy said after two days of talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

France told China that balanced trade and close cooperation was the best way to shield the world from future crises and the menace of protectionism, and China promised its support for Paris as it takes over the G20 presidency this month.

Sarkozy has big ambitions for his year at the helm of the Group of 20 leading economies and would score a coup if he can get Beijing to back his goals of finding ways to reduce volatility in commodity markets and diversify currency reserves.


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