Among the Western powers, France has distinguished itself with its diplomatic foresight and strategic autonomy, especially when it comes to handling relations with China. That France has always managed to achieve win-win cooperation with the world’s second-largest economy despite the differences that exist between them underscores the solidity of the foundation of the bilateral relationship and the friendship between the two peoples.
Thus it will be to no one’s surprise if French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire reaps fruitful results from his ongoing visit to China, which started on Saturday. How to gain wider Chinese market access for French companies and attract Chinese investment in France’s electric car industry are on top of his agenda. “There is a need to improve access to the Chinese market. I think that was at the core of our discussions,” Le Maire said in an interview, calling the trade talks he conducted with Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng on Saturday “constructive”. The two senior officials co-chaired the ninth China-France High Level Economic and Financial Dialogue.
The visit is a sign of the sound momentum in the development of the two countries’ economic and trade relations, as it comes at a time when the United States and many of its allies are pursuing a “de-risking from China strategy” to reduce what they call economic dependency on the country, after admitting complete “decoupling” is out of the question.
It would be constructive if France could use its deepening economic and trade cooperation with China to illustrate that any attempt to seek decoupling in the name of de-risking would mean breaking away from development opportunities. As Le Maire emphasized, de-risking does not mean that China is a risk.
During French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China in April, the two countries’ top leaders agreed to further open their markets to each other, and strengthen technological and industrial cooperation. The consensus has enabled bilateral economic and trade relations to continue to thrive. France has decided to extend Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei’s 5G licenses in some cities.
Moreover, Le Maire said France is ready to welcome Chinese investments in France’s auto industry, describing the scenario as “a very good thing”.
China has not and will never pose any risks to any country seeking economic exchanges and partnership based on equality and mutual benefit. Rather, it provides a vast market and great business opportunities, as evidenced by the fact that Le Maire’s visit has already seen important advances made in sectors such as cosmetics, aerospace, and food and beverages, which constitute the lion’s share of France’s exports to China. All this points to the bright prospects for Sino-French economic cooperation.
Editorial, China Daily