COLOMBEY-LES-DEUX-EGLISES, FRANCE – China’s envoy in France on Monday paid tribute to late Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s “visionary” role in helping the communist government secure global recognition.
In a ceremony to mark the 49th anniversary of France becoming the first Western power to establish full diplomatic relations with China, the ambassador laid a wreath at the former president’s tomb in the Champagne region.
“Time has proved right the common vision of Gen. de Gaulle and Chairman Mao,” the ambassador, Kong Quan, said of the man who was the symbol of France’s wartime resistance to Nazi Germany and served as president between 1959 and 1969.
“Since this recognition, the strategic partnership between France and China has been characterized by friendship.
“This recognition allowed our two countries to assert their independence and their respective places in the world.”
France announced its recognition of Mao’s communist government on Jan. 27, 1964, in a brief communique that generated diplomatic shock waves at a time when the United States was still insisting the nationalist regime in Taiwan should be considered the legitimate rulers of all of China.
Britain had recognized the communist regime in 1950 but did not exchange ambassadors with Beijing until 1972.
At the time China was recognized, de Gaulle was seeking to forge a new “middle” role for France on an international stage dominated by the Cold War confrontation between the U.S. and its allies and the communist world.
“There is something abnormal in the fact that we don’t have relations with the most populous country in the world because the Americans don’t like the regime,” de Gaulle confided to Information Minister Alain Peyrefitte.
Officials at the Charles de Gaulle Foundation are hopeful incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Paris for next year’s 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.