Published: 16:29, February 23, 2024 | Updated: 17:44, February 23, 2024
China seeks closer France, Spain bonds
By Zhang Yunbi

At meetings in Europe, FM stresses importance of stronger cooperation

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meets French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France, on Feb 20, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

China is ready to strengthen strategic coordination and deepen cooperation with France, Spain and the whole EU to contribute to global peace and stability, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this week.

Wang, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks during meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and Spanish King Felipe VI in Madrid.

During the meetings, on Feb 20 in Paris and Feb 19 in Madrid, Wang conveyed President Xi Jinping’s cordial greetings to Macron and Felipe VI. Macron asked Wang to convey sincere greetings to Xi and wished the Chinese people all the best in the Year of the Dragon. King Felipe VI also did the same, telling Wang to convey his sincere greetings to Xi and the Chinese people.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France, serving as an important point from which to build on past achievements and forge ahead, Wang said.

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Pragmatic cooperation brings significant benefits to both peoples, Wang said, expressing hope that the French side would create a fair and just business environment and provide positive and stable long-term expectations for Chinese firms.

As independent major countries, permanent members of the UN Security Council and important forces in a multipolar world, China and France should strengthen strategic coordination and deepen strategic cooperation to contribute to global peace and stability, Wang said during the meeting with Macron on Feb 20.

France has always adhered to the one-China policy and this position is clear, Macron said. In the face of global challenges, France adheres to strategic independence and is willing to strengthen strategic coordination with China to jointly safeguard peace and stability, he said.

Analysts said that China-France ties, which turned 60 on Jan 27, have made a new and productive start in the Chinese New Year, as Beijing and Paris agreed at their latest talks to increase direct flights between the two nations and conduct more high-level exchanges in 2024.

Spanish King Felipe VI meets with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, in Madrid, Spain, Feb 19, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Last year, bilateral trade reached $78.94 billion. As 2024 is the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, the two sides agreed to organize hundreds of cultural exchange activities.

During his meeting with Spanish King Felipe VI in Madrid on Feb 19, Wang said China is ready to work with Spain to promote dialogue and cooperation among all countries, transcend differences and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.

King Felipe VI told Wang that 50 years ago, his father and China’s then leaders jointly established diplomatic relations between the two countries. Over the past 50 years, Spain and China have enjoyed rapid development, smooth progress in practical cooperation and closer personnel exchanges, he said.

Good relations with China are of great significance to Spain, Europe and the world, the Spanish King said, adding that Spain is willing to further explore new areas of cooperation with China.

In today’s volatile world where conflicts persist, the important visions proposed by President Xi such as the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and the Belt and Road Initiative, have brought peace, development and hope to the world, Felipe VI said.

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During the visit to Madrid, Wang also met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares separately.

At dialogues between Wang and his counterparts, agenda items included China-EU ties and global governance.

In Paris, Wang said Beijing supports Europe in strengthening its strategic autonomy and taking its future and destiny into its own hands. French President’s Diplomatic Counselor Emmanuel Bonne said France supports the EU and China bolstering effective cooperation.

Liu Zuokui, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of European Studies, said Wang’s Europe trip “will help reduce tension and misunderstanding brought by attempts to disengage China, hype risks and politicize China-EU cooperation”.