PARIS — France and China will work together to deepen their strategic partnership and tackle major challenges facing today’s world, said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a written interview with Xinhua.
“The importance to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Franco-Chinese relationship, is to contemplate, of course, what we have built throughout the decades, but especially to prepare for the next 50 years,” Valls said as Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Paris for his first official visit to France.
Asked about what he expected from Li’s visit, Valls said he would welcome Li as a dear friend. “I like one of your proverbs: strangers at the first meeting but friends at the second,” Valls said, recalling his official visit to China last January.
On cooperation between the two countries, Valls listed new industries, new technologies, environment protection, future of the cities, security, fight against terrorism, as the key fields for bilateral cooperation in the coming years.
Valls praised the already existing commercial and economic relations between the two countries and said bilateral cooperation in the nuclear and aeronautics fields is exemplary.
“But we must go further. New energy, sustainable cities, food are the key sectors in which our two countries need to intensify their trade and mutual investments,” Valls said.
“During my trip to China, I said many times that France was ready to welcome more Chinese investments,” he added.
Asked about the government’s plan to protect Chinese investors and tourists, who are the top victims of pickpockets, Valls said “everything is implemented and all the measures will be intensified if necessary” to protect Chinese visitors.
“The Chinese living in France or coming to France to visit our country have the right to security and peace. That is why strong measures were taken,” Valls said.
Crimes targeting Chinese nationals decreased by 26 percent in 2014, Valls said.
Noting that Paris and Beijing have great histories and cultures, and enjoy sound strength in science and technology, Valls called for more efforts to enhance their cooperation in education, culture and sciences.
He pledged to take 50,000 Chinese students in the coming years, up from the current 20,000, and to encourage the learning of the Chinese language in France and that of French in China.
Speaking of the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for December in Paris, Valls said “China has a key role to play and has already made important decisions concerning environmental matters.”
The agreement to be reached at the meeting will “recognize the principle of collective responsibility in the fight against climate change, but also the specific circumstances of each country,” he said.
The prime minister also talked about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which he said is a new essential tool for the development in Asia. “Being a founding member is very important for France,” he said.
At the invitation of Valls, Premier Li arrived in Paris on June 29 for a four-day visit to France. It is the first official visit by a Chinese premier to the European country in nearly a decade.