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Hollande highlights green growth during Chongqing visit

Updated: 2015-11-17

By Tan Yingzi in Chongqing, China Daily

Hollande highlights green growth during Chongqing visit

French President Francois Hollande (second left) poses with Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan (left) and Li Keyong (third left), president of Sichuan International Studies University based in Chongqing, during a Huguang Guild Hall tour in Chongqing on Monday. Johannes Eisele / AFP

To better develop bilateral ties with China, French President Francois Hollande visited the southwestern municipality of Chongqing on Monday morning before making his way to Beijing for a state visit.

The visit, which comes at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, will last until Tuesday. It is Hollande's second state visit to China since he took office in 2012. His last official visit was in April 2013.

For Chongqing, a megacity with 30 million people - almost as large as Austria - it was the first opportunity to host a French president.

During his whirlwind tour there, Hollande checked out a sewage plant joint venture between the municipality and a French company.

Hollande said he was seeking "a global and ambitious agreement that will allow (global) warming to be limited to two degrees".

"The support of the Chinese is essential," he said, adding: "The fight against global warming is a humanitarian issue - how the planet can be preserved - and it is also an issue of considerable economic importance, of what we call green growth."

He then learned the history of the ancient city at Huguang Guild Hall near the Yangtze River.

Chongqing is an economic and trade hub in the upper reaches of the river and a gateway to China's vast inland area. In the first half of this year, the city's 11 percent GDP growth rate led the country and was 4 percent higher than the national average of 7 percent.

In recent years, Chongqing has seen its economy develop at a fast pace, with a double-digit growth rate that has attracted much attention from French investors.

Since 1997 when Chongqing became the fourth municipality to come under the direct leadership of the central government, French leading companies such as Suez Environnement, Carrefour, Lafarge, Danone and BRED, one of the largest regional banks in France, have invested heavily in the city.

In June, Chongqing Suyu Business Development Co, a joint venture formed by French utility Suez Environnement and NWS Holdings, signed an investment cooperation agreement with Chongqing Water Assets Management to form a new entity called Derun Environment.

In September, the French energy giant ENGIE signed an investment agreement with Chongqing Gas to set up a Sino-French energy service company. The total investment will reach 1 billion yuan ($158 million) in the next few years.

National strategies to develop the Silk Road Economic Belt and Yangtze River Economic Belt offer Chongqing many opportunities, such as development of information technology and transportation facilities.

Gefco, a European leader in automotive logistics, is expected to set up a distribution center at the Chongqing Logistics Center soon.

The Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway made its debut from the center's Tuanjiecun Railway Station in January 2011.

The nearly 11,180-kilometer link begins in Chongqing, crosses the border into Kazakhstan at Alashankou in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and passes through Russia, Belarus and Poland before reaching its terminus in Duisburg, Germany.

Hollande was accompanied by around 40 heads of French firms and a number of ministers. Chongqing Party chief Sun Zhengcai and Mayor Huang Qifan received the French delegation.

tanyingzi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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