Wed, April 22, 2009
China > China & World

Paris to extend warm invitation to President Hu

2009-04-22 00:35:02 GMT2009-04-22 08:35:02 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Paris plans to invite President Hu Jintao to France, a move that will further mend relations with Beijing.

National Assembly of France President Bernard Accoyer is in China and will officially invite Hu to visit France by the end of the year, an official with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in Paris on Monday.

Relations between Beijing and Paris hit a low after Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama in December, during France's tenure of the European Union presidency, despite China's repeated protests. China and France then went through one of the coldest winters in their 45-year-old diplomatic relations.

After rounds of negotiations, China and France on April 1 issued a statement that said France fully recognizes "the importance and sensitivity of the Tibet issue" and that France refuses to support any form of "Tibet independence". Hu and Sarkozy met the same day on the sidelines of the G20 summit in London.

Since then, Paris has sent a number of high-ranking officials to Beijing, including Accoyer and former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, with more big profiles to appear in Beijing in the coming weeks, including former president Jacques Chirac.

Earlier this month, France started building a new embassy in Beijing that had been delayed for months due to the diplomatic quarrel. When finished in 2010, it will become one of the largest French embassies around the world.

Beijing's attitude toward Paris is also warming. The Ministry of Commerce said it is considering sending a business delegation to purchase goods in France, widely seen as a counterbalance to China's $15 billion in deals signed with other European countries by a Chinese business delegation to Europe that skirted around France in February.

"The invitation is good news," said Pang Zhongying, a professor with Renmin University of China.

"If Hu visits, it will surely further consolidate recovering relations," Pang said.

Wu Baiyi, an expert on European studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Paris' intensive diplomatic efforts have had an effect and the invitation to Hu aims to formally affirm the mended relations.

The lingering global financial crisis and the lesson Paris learned have contributed to the nation's current candid attitude toward Beijing, Wu said.

"Personally speaking, it's highly possible that Hu will accept Sarkozy's invitation, especially given the fact that Premier Wen Jiabao's European trip earlier this year excluded the country," he said.

"I believe the Chinese leadership has a broad mind and political wisdom."

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