Strategic autonomy key to France, EU

President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday vowed to bolster communication and coordination in response to global challenges ranging from climate change to food security. They made the commitments on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, during their first face-to-face meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The high-level exchanges the two countries have maintained and the joint stand they seek to take are a boon to the world amid the complex and volatile international situation.

Saying the consequences of the Russia-Ukraine conflict stretch beyond Europe's frontiers, both leaders agreed on the urgency for de-escalation and the need to prevent any use of nuclear weapons.

The talks between the two leaders underscored the close coordination between the two countries and the great importance the two sides attach to their relations, which were upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2004, the first between China and a major Western country.

The two countries have developed robust economic and trade relations in recent years, and see eye to eye with each other on such key global issues as multilateralism, economic globalization and climate change. All this has laid a solid foundation for the sound and healthy development of Sino-French relationship.

Indeed, among the major Western powers France stands out with a foreign policy tradition that features independence from external influence, a virtue that has been inherited by nearly every French leader since General Charles de Gaulle. In fact, France was the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1964.

Thus it comes as no surprise that Xi, during his talks with Macron, emphasized a spirit of independence and autonomy when speaking on how to further develop China-France and China-EU relations. He noted that both China and France are important forces in the multipolar world, and the two countries should respect each other's core interests and major concerns and deepen pragmatic cooperation in such areas as green energy, aviation and nuclear energy.

As a key member of the European Union, France can also play a key role in promoting China-EU economic and trade cooperation, since the mutual trust and friendship between China and France, and the strategic autonomy France upholds are conducive to the strengthening of China-EU relations.

Last year, China-EU trade exceeded $800 billion for the first time while investments exceeded $270 billion. In the first eight months of this year, total trade between China and the EU amounted to $575.22 billion, up 8.8 percent year-on-year, and the EU's investment in China totaled $7.45 billion, up 121.5 percent year-on-year.

All this bodes well for future Sino-French and Sino-EU relations.