Xi arrives in Lyon for France visit

Updated: 2014-03-26 03:25


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LYON, France - Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Lyon on Tuesday for a state visit to France upon the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

During the visit, Xi will also travel to Paris for talks with French President Francois Hollande, and the two leaders will join a celebration of the jubilee.

Xi will also meet with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and parliamentary leaders.

"I am looking forward to exchanging views with President Hollande and other French leaders on bilateral relations and issues of common concern," Xi said upon his arrival, adding he will have extensive contact with French people from all works of life to sum up the past success and plan for the future.

The two sides are expected to sign cooperation agreements on nuclear energy, aviation, urbanization, agriculture and finance.

During his stay in Paris, Xi will visit the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he will meet with Director-General Irina Bokova and deliver a speech.

In 1964, Chinese leader Mao Zedong and French President Charles de Gaulle decided to establish ambassador-level diplomatic relations, which made France the first major Western country to set up official diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China.

The China-France relationship has led China's exchanges with the West, which has proved the strategic significance of bilateral ties.

Official Chinese data showed that annual bilateral trade increased from $13.39 billion in 2003 to $49.83 billion in 2013.

Figures from China's Ministry of Commerce showed that by the end of 2013 France had 4,630 investment projects in China, with actual investment amounting to 12.92 billion dollars. In 2013 alone, France opened 163 enterprises in China with an actual investment of 750 million dollars, up 15.3 percent from the previous year.

Fifty years ago, no more than 3,000 people traveled between China and France in a year. Today, more than 5,000 people travel between the two countries in a single day. Currently, about 38,000 Chinese students are studying in France, and more than 7,000 French students in China.

France is the second leg of Xi's ongoing European trip, which will also take him to Germany and Belgium. Before France, Xi visited the Netherlands and attended the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.