Former PM's China vision

Updated: 2013-03-22 07:08

By Li Xiang(China Daily)

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Former PM's China vision

France is eager to team up with China to deliver sustainable development, says Michel Rocard

China has a crucial role to play in resolving the current economic downturn in Europe and it is important for both sides to have a common vision for the future, says Michel Rocard, former prime minister of France.

"If capitalism is a computer, then the current world economic order is the software that is failing. The dysfunction is so deep that the classic recipes do not work any longer," Rocard says.

"No individual country has the capacity to recreate a new and effective economic system and financial regulation," he says. "The West cannot conduct strategies to resolve the economic crisis without involving the Chinese."

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Rocard says that he expects China to play a bigger role in global affairs under the new leadership. China will be the key player in international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund and hence has a vital role to play in Europe.

"China already accounts for about 9 to 10 percent of global trade, and I think that figure will double in the next 10 years."

While acknowledging that it is important for China's new leaders to focus on internal issues such as improving quality of people's lives, Rocard says it should not limit the government's vision on international problems.

He says he believes that China can contribute substantially to the improvement of world governance. "My wish is that China's new leadership acknowledges this aspect and acts accordingly."

Rocard, 83, served as the prime minister of France from 1988 to 1991 under the presidency of Francois Mitterrand. He was the first secretary of the French Socialist Party from 1993 to 1994. He became a member of the European Parliament in 2004 and has been an active promoter of China-EU relations since then.

In 2005, he co-founded China-Europe Forum, a platform for dialogue among European and Chinese officials and scholars. Three major conferences with multiple workshops gathering hundreds of opinion leaders from Europe and China have been organized since then.

Rocard says intensifying dialogue is crucial for strengthening the strategic partnership between China and the EU. In his opinion high-level political exchanges as well as people-to-people engagement between China and the EU still remain largely insufficient.

Stronger collaboration between China and the EU is "absolutely necessary" to resolve many of the pressing issues in the world such as climate change, energy security and nuclear nonproliferation, he says. "China and Europe have a common responsibility to address many of the global problems. It is a duty and much needs to be done by both sides to further cooperation."

While the European governments are looking for more investment from China to boost growth and jobs, China is also experiencing an economic transformation with a focus on consumption and sustainability, something that Europe has rich experience in.

Rocard says he has been a frequent visitor to China, which demonstrates his keen interest in what is happening in the country.

Though he admires the fast development in China, Rocard also warns about the real estate bubbles and the over-reliance on exports, aspects that pose risks to the Chinese economy.

"China can no longer play evidently and powerfully the exports card," he says. "The real problem for China is how to redirect the economy towards internal demand and to create a mechanism for it."

Commenting on Sino-French relations, Rocard says that the proposed visit by French President Francois Hollande to China is "symbolically very important" as it will create the framework for better cooperation between the two countries to resolve the economic crisis.

Hollande, who is expected to visit China in late April, has in a message to President Xi expressed the desire to step up cooperation between the two sides on major international issues and on ways to promote balanced, sustainable growth.

Apart from economic relations, Rocard also feels that France and China should strengthen cooperation in the fields of scientific research, pollution treatment and environmental protection, which are among the top priorities of China's new government.

"France is a world leader with extensive know-how in environmental fields such as water pollution treatment, so there is plenty of space for us to work together," he says.

Rocard also advocates increased public exchange and engagement across various strata from Europe and China. He says that the European parliament should work for more dialogue between the two sides.

"Ways are multiple. What we need is the agreement between the great chiefs. So I hope it can begin with a meeting between Hollande and Xi," he says.

(China Daily 03/22/2013 page5)