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China and France should join forces in Africa to boost the continent's development, vice-president of a major French political party said on Tuesday.
Thierry Mariani, of the Union for a Popular Movement, spoke on the sidelines of the Fourth China-Europe High-Level Political Parties Forum in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.
Thierry Mariani, of the Union for a Popular Movement, is interviewed on the sidelines of the Fourth China-Europe High-Level Political Parties Forum in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on April 23, 2013. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
"The reality is, France has a deep understanding of African countries, both from the common language and historical perspective. So it would benefit Africa and France as well as China if some trilateral cooperative projects could be launched," he said.
The 54-year-old Frenchman, who was transportation minister during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, has been involved in the China-Europe forum since it was established in 2010.
Mariani said France and many African countries have a deep engagement as many African politicians graduated from French universities, and French is the official language of many African countries.
"But France has not invested and donated to Africa as much as it used to. Instead, China has been a major player in Africa's economy. It would be good to combine both sides' strengths," he said.
China now is Africa's largest trading partner, while France is Africa's third-largest.
Commenting on French President Francois Hollande's upcoming official visit to China, Mariani said it is "very good" for Hollande to visit China.
"You should note, this is his first trip to China. Though he could have come earlier, it is better late than never," he said.
The visit is also significant as it comes on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 establishment of Sino-French relations, Mariani said.
He said major French corporations as well as small and medium-sized enterprises will be part of Hollande's delegation, which Mariani said is very important.
"Major French corporations have long established their presence in China. So it is very important for France's SMEs to get better access to China market," he said.