G20 Hangzhou Summit: A Significant Occasion for International Cooperation – Interview with French Ambassador to China




IN an interview on July 20, 2016, French Ambassador to China Maurice Gourdault-Montagne shared his insights on such topics as the 2016 G20 Summit and Sino-French cooperation.




French Ambassador to China Maurice Gourdault-Montagne.


Since taking up his post in August 2014, Ambassador Gourdault-Montagne has been present at a series of activities marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.


G20’s Decisive Contribution to Global Governance and Stability


Ambassador Gourdault-Montagne said that hosting the G20 Summit for the first time meant a lot to China, since the G20 has made a decisive contribution to global governance and stability.


It was evident to all that China was able to organize the meeting successfully. The ambassador said that his country greatly supported this year’s summit. France, he said, has noted several significant issues challenging today’s world. For instance, measures need to be taken to combat financial terrorism, while tax affairs should be more transparent. At present, legal systems in some countries appear contrary to this objective. It is important to take steps to better manage where tax payments are made and to crack down on tax evasion. On the other hand, he argued, there is a large international financial system. Against the backdrop of globalization and co-existence of various currencies, a coordinated financial system is necessary to facilitate implementing different projects, ensure capital stability, avoid fluctuations in financial markets, and achieve steady and sustainable development. Discussions are therefore required to figure out appropriate regulations and mechanisms to realize sustainable growth. Topics concerning world stability have also drawn attention. Take global governance for example. Ambassador Gourdault-Montagne holds that we must find a way to exist in harmony in this multi-polarized world in which China and the EU are among the major powers. Consensus must be reached on certain rules with which all parties must comply. There is still a long way to go in this respect. But the Hangzhou Summit is a significant occasion. More progress is expected to be made in the future. The key lies in cooperation and looking ahead.


Achieve “4 I” Through Cooperation


This year’s summit focuses on the “4 I” theme – building an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.


According to the ambassador, the theme comprehensively summarizes and reveals the new situation of the global economy. In the meantime, the common goal of all parties is to strive together through cooperation. He pointed out that when talking about economic upgrade, everyone recognizes its core – innovation. Speaking of interconnection, today’s digital economy provides a good example. Inclusiveness stresses not neglecting any party’s development, even though development conditions differ from region to region. Even within one country, such as in China, some areas are well developed while others are not. Time is needed to fill the gap. The same applies to the whole world. We must work together instead of ignoring others’ needs. As for “invigoration,” the summit is expected to generate a new driving force for global progress. With joint efforts, concerted action plans can be achieved and unity strengthened. Interconnection indicates unity, the ambassador continued, and we must help the countries that are less capable in certain fields. China and France attach great importance to the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. Not a single one should be abandoned during development. It is crucial to ensure that less-developed regions can share the fruits of progress.


Trip to Hangzhou


Prior to the arrival of the French President, Ambassador Gourdault-Montagne made a business trip to the host city, Hangzhou, in Zhejiang Province, to undertake preparation work. Though it was his first visit, the city and the province were not unknown to him. He had heard that the French Department in Zhejiang University enjoys a great reputation for teaching French language and culture, and he knows many professors of this prestigious school. In his opinion, it was a wise choice for the Chinese government to hold the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. The area is well known for its hospitable climate and amazing landscape. He believes that much of its attraction is rooted in the city’s inner beauty. Hangzhou is the hometown of Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma. Ambassador Gourdault-Montagne said Ma is a renowned figure, and that they met several times when the Internet tycoon visited France.


The ambassador agrees that Hangzhou has a leading position in Internet technologies among China’s provincial capitals. The Internet has enormously influenced modern society. Most G20 members are using the Internet to bring their economies to a new level, which has facilitated the emergence of the new economy. Making it more convenient to exchange goods and ideas, the Internet is indeed a significant impetus to advance human society. Interactions between people are very important for the development of countries, and their effect changes the lives of all. Therefore, the ambassador suggested that people join hands to further develop and popularize the Internet, a view that also found consensus among the G20.


Solid Foundation for Mutual Trust


Ambassador Gourdault-Montagne is highly confident about Sino-French cooperation. Bilateral exchanges and cooperation date back over five decades. At the same time, the two sides have established a solid foundation for mutual trust through various dialogues. Fifteen years ago, France was the first in Europe to conduct a strategic dialogue with China. A wide range of issues has been discussed under this mechanism. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and France work together on the world’s hottest issues, including international crises and global development, which require the two countries to play exemplary global roles. In the last four years, dialogues on economy and finance have been launched. Furthermore, a high-level dialogue on people-to-people exchanges commenced following President Xi’s visit to France in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic relationship. Specifically, discussions between the two sides have covered various topics, from politics to economy and culture. He also mentioned the constructive cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. The two countries have jointly researched third-generation nuclear reactors. The Taishan nuclear plant, a joint venture of China and France, is under construction and expected to be the world’s first nuclear reactor using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) to come into operation.


Aviation is also included within the bilateral cooperation projects. Moreover, long-term cooperation has been established since 2014 in such fields as healthcare, nursing services for the aged, pharmaceutical research, agriculture, and food security. These are important because people have every right to know the content of what they eat and drink. In addition, ever-growing human society requires the construction of sustainable cities in which advanced technologies on water treatment and garbage disposal are applied. A good number of French companies are working together with their Chinese counterparts in this regard. The projects mentioned by the ambassador are echoed in China’s five development concepts which guide the 13th Five-Year Plan – innovation, coordination, green development, opening-up, and sharing.


In the ambassador’s eyes, China and France have a promising future in their bilateral cooperation. He stressed that France was among the first countries to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. On top of that, he held that the Belt and Road Initiative will not only boost China’s globalization, but also generate potential opportunities for cooperation between China and France. Rooting out these opportunities is what we need to do at the moment. He thought it a brilliant proposal to connect China with the West by railways, highways, and other infrastructures. Making life more prosperous and stable for people in different countries is an issue worth exploring for both countries, he concluded.


SONG RUOBING is a reporter with