State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Feb 26 in preparation for President Xi Jinping’s visit to France in late March.
During the visit, Yang also met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Hollande’s foreign affairs adviser Paul Jean-Ortiz.
Experts said Yang’s visit will pave the way for Xi as the meetings aim to cement the deals signed during Hollande’s visit to China last year and to prepare for more high-level visits between the two countries.
“Yang is supposed to engage in negotiations and consultations to prepare for the upcoming visit of President Xi,” said Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies.
Earlier this week, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng met with his French counterpart, Nicole Bricq, in Paris. Both ministers said that China and France have reached consensus on boosting trade and investment and that major deals are expected to be signed during Xi’s visit.
“The European economy is heading in the right direction, and China has initiated a new round of reforms, which means that there are a lot of mutual needs,” Cui said.
Pierre Picquart, a China observer and professor of geopolitics at the University of Paris VIII, characterized Xi’s visit as “a great time and opportunity” for China and Europe to seize on issues of common concern and strengthen bilateral relations.
“We must develop our bilateral relations and engage in new concrete economic programs in all areas. In this case, China and France will benefit from a new and very positive relationship,” Picquart said.
Last April, Hollande visited China, and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited in December.
Experts said high-level strategic dialogue provides a platform for China and France, an important strategic partner in Europe, to exchange views on regional and global issues.
“The two countries also need to know each other’s understanding of regional and international affairs in order to lay a solid foundation for future cooperation,” Cui said.
Feng Zhongping, president of European studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, noted that both China and France are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and exert great influence on international affairs.
“Such dialogues will help enhance political trust and expand cooperation between the two countries as well as China and the whole of Europe,” Feng said.