China’s ambassador to France on Monday paid tribute to former French president Charles de Gaulle’s “visionary” role in helping the communist government secure global recognition.
In a ceremony to mark the 49th anniversary of France becoming the first Western power to establish full diplomatic relations with Beijing, the ambassador laid a wreath at the former president’s tomb in the Champagne region.
“Time has proved right the common vision of General De Gaulle and Chairman Mao [Zedong (毛澤東)],” ambassador, Kong Quan (孔泉) said of the man who was the symbol of France’s wartime resistance to Nazi Germany and served as president between 1959 and 1969. “Since this recognition, the strategic partnership between France and China has been characterized by friendship. This recognition allowed our two countries to assert their independence and their respective places in the world.”
France announced its recognition of Mao’s communists on Jan. 27, 1964, in a brief communique that generated diplomatic shock waves at a time when the US still insisted the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime in Taiwan should be considered the legitimate government of all China.
Britain had recognized the communist regime in 1950, but did not exchange ambassadors with Beijing until 1972.
At the time China was recognized, De Gaulle was seeking to forge a new “middle” role for France on an international stage dominated by the Cold War confrontation between the US and its allies and the communist world. Two years later, he was to withdraw the country from NATO’s military command structures.
“There is something abnormal in the fact that we don’t have relations with the most populous country in the world because the Americans don’t like the regime,” De Gaulle confided at the time to then-French Information minister Alain Peyrefitte.
Officials at the Charles de Gaulle foundation are hopeful incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will visit Paris for next year’s 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
The French Foreign Ministry said no arrangement to that effect had been made.