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Asia-Pacific

Valls unveils de Gaulle statue, meets Xi Jinping on day two of China visit

media French Prime Minister Manuel Valls meets Chinese President Xi Jinping Reuters/Fred Dufour/Pool

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls unveiled a statue of former president General Charles de Gaulle at China’s National Museum on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Friday after meeting President Xi Jinping on a visit that aims to redress the balance in Franco-Chinese trade relations.

The work by sculptor Jean Cardot is a replica of a huge statue of the general on Paris’s Champs Elysées that portrays him striding forward in military uniform and képi cap.

It has been placed in the museum as part of celebrations to mark the opening of Franco-Chinese diplomatic relations 50 years ago, when de Gaulle broke ranks with the US and its cold-war allies in recognising the People’s Republic, rather than Taiwan, as the Chinese government.

"More than half a century ago General de Gaulle had these words about his decision: 'It was the weight of evidence and reason,'" Valls said. "Long live Franco-Chinese friendship."

The bullet-sprayed car in which de Gaulle escaped an assassination attempt in 1962 was put on show in the same museum at the beginning of the year.

Earlier Friday Valls met Xi Jinping, who told him that Beijing wanted to go “higher and further” in relations in France.

China at present enjoys a multi-billion-euro surplus with France and Valls hopes to boost French exports and attract Chinese investment to France.

Xi also offered condolences for the Charlie Hebdo killing spree that rocked France earlier this month.

Valls met representatives of Chinese civil society on Friday, his entourage said, despite the fact that officials discourage critics of the regime from meeting visiting foreigners.
 

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