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President Xi Jinping talks with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday. YIN BOGU/XINHUA

Former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has highlighted the profound significance of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to France, particularly amid the current turbulent geopolitical landscape and global uncertainties, saying it is not only timely but also essential for fostering deeper mutual understanding and strengthening collaborative efforts between the two nations.

"The visit of President Xi Jinping to France marks a pivotal moment, especially when the world faces such perilous challenges," Raffarin told China Daily in an interview. "We cannot envision the world's future without considering China, and, likewise, it is not in China's interest to disregard Europe."

He emphasized the necessity of continuous dialogue with China. "We need to have a very regular dialogue with China. I think that Emmanuel Macron is the leader of the West who best understands President Xi Jinping's thinking, having spent many hours discussing with the Chinese president," Raffarin said.

The discussions between Xi and Macron covered urgent global issues, including climate change and strategic geopolitical questions.

Raffarin expressed his satisfaction with the focus of the talks, recognizing their importance not just for France or China, but for the entire world. "These discussions are vital, as the world navigates through a dangerous period."

Raffarin, who served as prime minister from 2002 to 2005, asserted that France holds a unique position in Europe, having established a model for engaging in meaningful discussions with China, choosing cooperation over confrontation.

"France probably has the closest relationship with China within Europe, despite differing viewpoints. We share a vision of a multilateral world," he said.

Raffarin laid out what he sees as key areas for enhancing cooperation between France and China, emphasizing cultural exchange, environmental preservation and the establishment of new multilateral regulations as foundational elements of the partnership. "We need to focus on cultural questions to understand the societies between France and China better. Furthermore, protecting our planet for future generations is now a priority, necessitating a global consensus, particularly among the young people."

He also touched upon the need for common regulations in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, suggesting they could form the basis for the reform of global multilateralism.

Addressing strategic misalignments in global politics, particularly regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the 75-year-old emphasized that a strong and balanced Europe is beneficial for China.

Looking ahead, Raffarin voiced his concern about the current direction of global politics, advocating for cooperation over confrontation.

"In a world leaning toward confrontation, we need to steer back toward cooperation," he said. "This is the only way forward for a stable and prosperous global community."

He added that he views Xi's visit as a cornerstone for not only reinforcing the China-France relationship, but also setting a precedent for how major global powers should interact in an increasingly multipolar world.

As tensions continue to rise on various fronts, the collaboration between China and France could play a crucial role in navigating the complex web of international relations, he said.

Raffarin welcomed Xi's commitment to expanding access and welcoming French companies and investment into China, underscoring the need for reciprocal relations between China and Europe.

"What we seek is reciprocity," he said. "The rules that apply to Chinese companies in Europe should similarly apply to European companies in China."

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