• France's news in English

Paris cuts red tape for Chinese visitors

AFP/The Local · 13 Jan 2014, 14:49

Published: 13 Jan 2014 14:49 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Chinese visitors to France - the world's top tourist destination - are to get fast-track visas as part of celebrations marking the 50-year anniversary of Paris establishing full diplomatic ties with Communist Beijing.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced the measure on Monday as he unveiled year-long events feting the January 27th, 1964 date on which France broke ranks with the US to open ties with the then-government of Mao Zedong -- a decision that paved the way for China to gain global recognition.

Fabius told a press conference that former French president Charles De Gaulle's "pioneering" decision "gave France a special position in China" which had been buttressed over the years.

De Gaulle's decision caused diplomatic shockwaves at a time when the United States was still insisting the nationalist regime that had escaped to Taiwan should be considered the legitimate government of all of China.

It came amid the backdrop of the Cold War, with De Gaulle making efforts to seek a middle path for France in the confrontation between the US and its allies on the one hand and the Communist world on the other.

"It was a visionary decision with respect to a great power in the making, whose importance in world affairs today bears testimony to it," Fabius said.

By way of comparison, full diplomatic relations between China and Britain were only established in 1972, and in 1979 with the United States.

The events will include exhibitions in China showcasing the works of leading French artists such as Impressionist painter Claude Monet and sculptor Auguste Rodin.

An exhibition on De Gaulle, France's wartime resistance hero who served as president between 1959 and 1969, will also take place and a bullet-riddled Citroen car in which he survived an assassination attempt by opponents of Algerian independence will be sent to China.

Treasures from China's Han dynasty will be on display in Paris among several other events. Fabius also announced the new visa regime under which Chinese visitors travel requests will be processed within 48 hours, due to come into force on January 27th.

Story continues below…

"This will also be an occasion to promote France as a tourist destination to the Chinese public," Fabius said.

France is the prime European destination for Chinese tourists, with a record 1.4 million visitors from China last year. The inauguration event for the year-long anniversary at the Grand Palais museum in Paris will include a solo performance by famed Chinese pianist Lang.

China will also be the guest of honour at the Paris art fair in March, while the limelight will be on France in the Western China International Fair -- an international expo -- in Sichuan province, home of the pandas.

AFP/The Local (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available