Dec. 22, 2017 -When the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) opened online registrations for the first Paris Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in November, there were so many requests that IRIS had to close registrations earlier than expected. “The Paris Forum is an opportunity to work very concretely on projects of common interest,” former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told Xinhua. The BRI has allowed different countries to sit down around a table to discuss cooperation, and multilateral dialogue is a good model for cooperation, especially for today’s world, explained another former Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, president of the Prospective and Innovation Foundation. Raffarin represented President Macron at the May Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. The BRI is also one of the responses to multilateralism, which “can create closer Franco-Chinese collaboration,” said IRIS director Pascal Boniface.
The initiative obviously benefits more “Made in France” products and French companies, experts say. One example is the Lyon-Wuhan freight rail line, which was launched in April 2016. Since then, thousands of bottles of Bordeaux wine, other French agricultural products, and auto parts have been exported to China. In addition, communication between Chinese and French communities is becoming increasingly open and transparent, they said.