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China–France relations

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Title: China–France relations  
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Subject: Foreign relations of France, French Indochina, Tientsin Accord, Treaty of Huế (1884), Battle of Yu Oc
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China–France relations

Sino-French relations


Towns and villages of Frýdek-Místek District
Registrum denarii sancti Petri in archidiaconatu Opoliensi sub anno domini MCCCCXLVII per dominum Nicolaum Wolff decretorum doctorem, archidiaconum Opoliensem, ex commissione reverendi in Christo patris ac domini Conradi episcopi Wratislaviensis, sedis apostolice collectoris, collecti
French name
French Relations franco-chinoises
Z historii Kościoła ewangelickiego na Śląsku Cieszyńskim

China–France relations, also known as Sino-French relations or Franco-Chinese relations, refers to the interstate relations between China and France (Kingdom or later).

Note that the meaning of both "China" and "France" as entities has changed throughout history; this article will discuss what was commonly considered 'France' and 'China' at the time of the relationships in question. There have been many political, cultural and economic relationships between the two countries.


17th and 18th centuries

Nicolas Trigault (1577–1629) in Chinese costume, by Peter Paul Rubens.

Numerous French Jesuits were active in China during the 17th and 18th centuries: Nicolas Trigault (1577–1629), Alexander de Rhodes (1591–1660, active in Vietnam), Jean-Baptiste Régis (1663–1738), Jean Denis Attiret (1702–1768), Michel Benoist (1715–1774), Joseph-Marie Amiot (1718–1793).

French Jesuits pressured the French king to send them to China with the aims of counterbalancing the influence of Ottoman Empire in Europe. The Jesuits sent by Louis XIV were: Jean de Fontaney (1643–1710), Joachim Bouvet (1656-1730), Jean-François Gerbillon (1654–1707), Louis Le Comte (1655–1728) and Claude de Visdelou (1656–1737).[7] Returning to France, they noticed the similarity between Louis XIV of France and the Emperor Kangxi. Both were said to be servants of God, and to control their respective areas: France being the strongest country of Europe, and China being the strongest power in East Asia. Other biographical factors lead commentators to proclaim that Louis XIV and Kangxi were protected by the same Angel. (In childhood, they overcame the same illness; both reigned for a long time, with many conquests.)

European couple, Kangxi period.

Under Louis XIV's reign, the work of these French researchers sent by the King had a notable influence on Chinese sciences, but continued to be mere intellectual games, and not tools to improve the power of man over nature. Conversely, Chinese culture and style became fashionable in France, exemplified by the Chinoiserie fashion, and Louis XIV had the Trianon de Porcelaine built in Chinese style in 1670.

Michel Sin visited France in 1684. "The Chinese Convert" by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1687.

At the same time, the first ever known Chinese people came to the French Kingdom. Michel Sin arrived in Versaille in 1684 before continuing on to England. More notable was Arcadio Huang, who crossed the Kingdom in 1702, spent some time in Rome (as a result of the Chinese Rites controversy), and returned to Paris in 1704, where he was the "Chinese interprete of the King" before he died in 1716. He started the first ever Chinese-French dictionary, and a Chinese grammar to help French and European researchers to understand and study Chinese, but died before finishing his work.

In the 18th century, the French Jesuit Michel Benoist, together with Giuseppe Castiglione, helped the Qianlong Emperor build a European-style area in the Old Summer Palace (often associated with European-style palaces (Xi Yang Lou) built of stone), to satisfy his taste for exotic buildings and objects. Jean Denis Attiret became "Painter to the Emperor" Qianlong. Joseph-Marie Amiot (1718–1793) also won the confidence of Qianlong and spent the remainder of his life in Beijing. He was official translator of Western languages for Emperor Qianlong, and the spiritual leader of the French mission in Peking.[8]

19th century

A boundary marker from the French concession in Hankou

From the relatively distant cordiality of the ancien régime, relations between Qing and France would deteriorate in the European rush for colonies, even as they matured. Nineteenth-century Europe was eager for the acquisition of colonies, and as European opinion of China deteriorated, the once admired empire would become the subject of unequal treaties and colonisation. In 1844, China and France concluded its first modern treaty, the Treaty of Whampoa, which demanded for France the same privileges extended to Britain. In 1860, the Summer Palace was ransacked by French units and many precious objects found their way into French museums following this looting. Later, France would seize Guangzhouwan as a treaty port, and take its own concession in the treaty port of Shanghai.

French Indochina era

20th century

In 1900, France was a major participant in the Eight-Nation Alliance which invaded China to put down the Boxer Rebellion. In the early 20th century Chinese students began to come to France. Li Shizeng, Zhang Renjie, Wu Zhihui, and Cai Yuanpei formed an anarchist group which became the basis for the Diligent Work-Frugal Study Movement. Zhang started an gallery which imported Chinese art, and the dealer C.T. Loo developed his Paris gallery into an international center.

The Chinese Communist Party. These included Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping.

During World War II, France and China fought as allied powers against the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan.

Cold War relations

After the Chinese Civil War (1927–1950) and the establishment of the new communist-led People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949, the French Fourth Republic government did not recognize the PRC. Instead, France maintained relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan. However, by 1964 France and the PRC had re-established ambassadorial level diplomatic relations. This was precipitated by Charles de Gaulle's official recognition of the PRC. Before the Chinese Civil War, Deng Xiaoping had completed his studies in Paris prior to ascending to power in China.

Post-Cold War

This state of relations would not last, however. During the 1990s, France and the PRC repeatedly clashed as a result of the PRC's One China Policy. France sold weapons to Taiwan, angering the Beijing government. This resulted in the temporary closure of the French Consulate-General in Guangzhou. France eventually agreed to prohibit local companies from selling arms to Taiwan, and diplomatic relations resumed in 1994.

Since then, the two countries have exchanged a number of state visits. Today, Sino-French relations are primarily economic. Bilateral trade reached new high levels in 2000. Cultural ties between the two countries are less well represented, though France is making an effort to improve this disparity.

2008 rifts

In 2008, Sino-French relations took a downturn in the wake of the Carrefour in major Chinese cities including Kunming, Hefei and Wuhan.[11] Hundreds of people also joined anti-French rallies in those cities and Beijing.[12] Both governments attempted to calm relations after the demonstrations. French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote a letter of support and sympathy to Jin Jing, a Chinese athlete who had carried the Olympic torch.[13] Chinese President Hu Jintao subsequently sent a special envoy to France to help strengthen relations.[14]

However, relations again soured after President Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama in Poland in 2009. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao omitted France in his tour of Europe in response, his assistant foreign minister saying of the rift "The one who tied the knot should be the one who unties it."[15] French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was quoted in Le Monde as saying that France had no intention of "encourag[ing] Tibetan separatism".[16]

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^  
  3. ^  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Broda, Jan (1992). "Materiały do dziejów Kościoła ewangelickiego w Księstwie Cieszyńskim i Państwie Pszczyńskim w XVI i XVII wieku". Z historii Kościoła ewangelickiego na Śląsku Cieszyńskim (in Polish). Katowice: Dom Wydawniczy i Księgarski „Didache“. pp. 259–260.  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Eastern Magnificence and European Ingenuity: Clocks of Late Imperial China - p. 182 by Catherine Pagani (2001) [1]
  8. ^ Alain Peyrefitte, Images de l'Empire Immobile, p. 113
  9. ^ "China condemns Olympic torch disruptions", France 24, April 8, 2008
  10. ^ "Raidissement des relations sino-françaises", Radio France Internationale, April 15, 2008
  11. ^ China–France relations. 
  12. ^ "Anti-French rallies across China", BBC, April 19, 2008
  13. ^ "«Chère mademoiselle Jin Jing, je voudrais vous dire toute mon émotion...»", Libération, April 28, 2008
  14. ^ "La porte-parole du ministère des AE appelle aux efforts conjoints de la Chine et de la France pour promouvoir les relations bilatérales", The People's Daily, April 23, 2008
  15. ^ "China ready to mend ties if France moves first", AFP, january 22, 2009
  16. ^ "'Encore du travail' pour des retrouvailles entre Pékin et Paris (Raffarin)", Le Monde, February 10, 2009


  • The China Quarterly 169, Cambridge University Press, 2002, pp. 33–44,  

Further reading

  • France/China: intercultural imaginings by Alex Hughes (2007)
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