WARM WELCOME: Chinese President Hu Jintao meets residents of Nice, France, on November 5, while accompanied by French President Nicolas Sarkozy (XINHUA)
France views China as an important partner because of similar views about the "future world order," said Xing Hua, a research fellow with the CIIS. He said France traditionally has had a relatively independent view of international relations.
"China and France have a common language," Xing said. "France hopes to play the role of a major nation in world affairs and it suggests giving emerging countries a greater say in international organizations. And China is a representative of emerging countries."
Hu's visit allowed the two sides to coordinate their positions in preparation for the G20 Summit in South Korea. By cooperating with France more closely at the summit, China would have a better chance to realize its conceptions of the world economic and political order focusing on peace and development, Xing added.
ENTERPRISE VISIT: Chinese President Hu Jintao visits a production facility of the French energy management company Schneider Electric near Nice on November 6 (LAN HONGGUANG)
China and France announced plans to strengthen cultural and educational ties and encourage cooperation between local governments in the two countries. They also pledged to increase cooperation in science and technology.
As part of this effort, partnership between colleges and universities will be enhanced and study of the other country's language will be encouraged. In addition, over the next five years, 500 French young people will be invited to China.
Achieving "green growth" has become a goal for most countries, Xing said. Against this backdrop, China and France have a good opportunity to improve cooperation in environmental protection, as well as hi-tech and information industries.
Hu's visit to Portugal—the first visit by a Chinese head of state in 11 years—was marked by efforts to deepen cooperation between the two countries.
During the visit, Chinese and Portuguese telecommunications companies signed a cooperative agreement. China also promised to support the economic recovery of Portugal, which is still suffering from high unemployment and a high budget deficit.
In addition, the two countries pledged to double bilateral trade by 2015. Bilateral trade totaled about $2.4 billion in 2009.
Portugal is important to China, both for its position in Southern Europe and its influence in Portuguese-speaking countries, said Zhang of the CICIR.
Portugal is also "very typical" inside the EU, he said. Agreements between the two countries can pave the way for reaching common understanding between China and the EU as a whole.
Hu's visits to both France and Portugal were significant, said Zhang, because they helped enhance mutual trust and promote the development of a strategic partnership between China and the EU.
As an emerging economic and political power, China faces more criticisms and requirements from the rest of the world. Communication with other countries is therefore more important for China now than in the past, he said.