Dear Jean-Pierre Raffarin,

Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

Ladies and gentlemen parliamentarians,

Deputy Director-General for Culture,

Mr Co-chair of the Forum and Vice-President of the Standing Committee of the People’s Assembly of China,

Dear Christian Estrosi,

Ladies and gentlemen elected,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

 

First of all, I would like to thank very warmly the co-chair of the forum, the Government’s special representative for China and the mayor of Nice for their invitation and their welcome.

Thank you for your efforts to gather, gather, federate, energies and good will, at the service of Franco-Chinese cultural cooperation.

I would like to commend your tireless efforts to bring out the prospects of cultural partnership between our two countries and to promote their concrete realization.

Fifty-five years ago, the leaders of France and China decided to establish diplomatic relations between our two countries.

This year we are celebrating this anniversary.

And I’m so happy to be here with you to do that.

But our civilizations did not wait for this turning point to dialogue among themselves.

Their stories have been interwoven for a long time, and culture holds a special place in this ardent friendship.

Perhaps that is what we need to celebrate, even more so.

Because this mutual interest, this mutual curiosity, this inexhaustible fascination that binds us was born long before.

Since ancient times, incessant exchanges have taken place between our countries, between our peoples, between our cultures.

Let us remember that it was Louis XIV who inaugurated, before the letter, a bold cultural policy towards China. Fuelled by a real curiosity, this policy has made it possible to develop a real knowledge of China, but also to maintain an unprecedented and modern diplomatic relationship with the Middle Kingdom.

And in China, French literature found, from the end of the XIXe Lin Shu led the way, with «La Dame aux Camélias» by Dumas. Then it was the turn of Rousseau, Hugo and Daudet.

For, beyond the borders that separate us, our artists have never ceased to converse, to learn, and to enrich themselves in otherness.

They have done so tirelessly, united by the force of creation.

From Pierre Loti to Paul Valéry, and from Segalen to Malraux, how many of our writers have come to China for inspiration? From Zao Wou-Ki to Yan Pei-Ming, how many of your illustrious painters have come here to Paris to train and create?

This bridge we have built between our two countries, this dialogue that has lasted for centuries, these exchanges that unite us and connect us; we have an obligation to extend them today and tomorrow.

This is the ambition of the President of the Republic and his entire government. We have so much to learn, so much to know, so much to build together!

President Xi Jinping’s visit to France has made important progress. President Macron’s visit to China next month will, I am sure, bring more.

Many cultural projects between France and China are under construction.

Heritage, architecture, music, performing arts, visual arts, books, cinema are all examples of the diversity and creativity of our partnership.

But what makes the strength of our relationship is its long-term anchorage, its permanent renewal, its perpetual abundance.

 

In the museum field, first. The President of the Republic will inaugurate in November the Centre Pompidou West Bund Museum in Shanghai, on the banks of the Huangpu River.

It is a sign of an alliance built around cultural diversity and over time.

Since 2013, the Rodin Museum has developed lasting links with China and is involved in several projects.

On Wednesday, as part of this Forum, he will sign an important sponsorship agreement with Zhang Chengcheng, philanthropist who supports Franco-Chinese cultural partnerships, in connection with the Yishu-8 Art Centre in Beijing, created by Christine Cayol, a stone’s throw from the Forbidden City.

I wanted to commend this great initiative. In addition, as you know, we are working with our Chinese partners to design and build a center dedicated to Rodin, in the city of Shenzhen.

Ambitious exhibitions are planned:

As a continuation of the exhibition held in Versailles in 2014, we are working on the organization, on the occasion of the 600 years of the Forbidden City in 2020, of an exhibition on China in Versailles. This exhibition will focus on an exceptional French and Chinese heritage the fascination that China has had for a very long time.

Another exhibition, dedicated to the silk roads, at the Arab World Institute in Paris.

It will make it possible to trace the great historical chapters that marked the cultural exchanges along the road of the silk, terrestrial and maritime, until the XVIe century.

 

In the heritage domain, then. We have developed a remarkable cooperation in the province of Shaanxi, and in particular on the site of the terracotta army of Xi'an.

French and Chinese experts work together on heritage conservation and restoration, tourism development and archaeology.

The success of this project should allow us to further develop our cooperation for heritage. In this regard, I would like to commend China’s commitment to preserving the endangered heritage around the ALIPH association.

ALIPH is an ambitious initiative, unique in the world: protecting our heritage against conflicts that rage or threaten us.

Thanks to China, and the many partners gathered around ALIPH, the association has in a very short time become a central actor in the protection of heritage in conflict zones. I thank them for that.

How can we not also mention the magnificent collaboration between the National Library of France and the National Library of China?

They aim to create a Franco-Chinese digital portal, which would make available to the greatest number the rich and ancient sinological collections of our national library.

 

In the musical field, La Philharmonie de Paris will highlight China in its 2020-2021 season, and exchange programs between French and Chinese professionals are intensifying with the Orchestre national de France.

 

In terms of the book industry. Since 2013, China is the 1er international partner for French publishers, and Mandarin the first language of assignment of rights for French works.

We can go even further, I know, because the interest is there: the Chinese are passionate about French literature.  

 

In photography, the 4e Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival will be held in Xiamen from November 22 to January 2, 2020.

And the first Chinese museum dedicated to photography was inaugurated this year in Chengdu.

I am pleased that his artistic direction has been entrusted to Jean-Luc Monterosso, former director of the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris, and to Wang Qingsong, renowned photographer and curator.

This co-direction is once again proof of the fruitful dialogue between our two countries.

Finally, I would like to conclude with a few words to remind you of the importance of our Franco-Chinese partnership in the film sector.

 

This partnership must be ambitious and must be based on three pillars:

  • The co-production.

An agreement was signed in 2010, resulting in 12 co-productions. They are of great quality – I am thinking of Philippe Muyl’s Bird Walker, who represented China at the Oscars in 2015, and of Jia Zhangke’s last two films, selected at Cannes.

But these co-productions are not numerous enough, and we must set ourselves the goal of doing more.

  • The second pillar of our relationship must be access to film diversity.

It goes through the Art et Essai culture. I am very pleased to see a network of Art et Essai cinemas developing in China: the Nationwide Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas currently has 3,800 cinemas in nearly 250 cities in China.

For the moment, only about fifteen foreign films have been screened in this network, including very few French films.

But I am convinced that this movement will flourish.

Because cultural diversity is our chance.

  • Third axis: the shootings.

I came here to Nice a few months ago to celebrate the centenary of the Victorine studios. I saw their full development potential. Thanks to the tax credit, we were able to attract very large international productions, including Chinese productions, to our country.

With 7 projects in 2018, China is one of the main filming countries in France, behind the United States.

I want us to continue on that path.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

For centuries, culture has been at the heart of our relations.

It will continue to be.

There is no shortage of cooperation projects.

Let’s make them happen together.

And let’s initiate others.

Because culture is an unwavering link between our artists and our peoples, which must continue to unite us and bring us closer together.