China, France release joint declaration on AI governance

AI Photo: VCG

AI Photo: VCG

China and France released on Monday Paris time a joint declaration on artificial intelligence (AI) and global governance during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to France, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. 

Experts said that the joint declaration will pave the way for practical cooperation, and serve as a model for enhancing AI exchanges and partnerships between China and other European countries. 

Signing the declaration is also seen as a challenge to US dominance in the field of AI, highlighting the limitations of hegemonic ambitions in the fast-evolving AI landscape. The era of the US attempting to assert AI global dominance is deemed unsustainable, experts said.

The declaration noted that President Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron firmly believe in the importance of continued dialogue to provide lasting solutions to global challenges. One of the highlights of the declaration is that China and France are committed to taking effective measures to address risks associated with this technology.

Both countries are also on the same page about the basic rules for AI governance. They agreed to take into account the flexibility required for the rapid development of technology, while providing necessary protection for personal data, the rights of users and the rights of users whose work is used by AI. They also committed to promoting secure, reliable and trustworthy AI systems, adhering to the principle of “AI for good.”

Zeng Yi, a professor of AI at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and also an expert of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Body on AI, told the Global Times on Tuesday that this consensus reflects the alignment of both parties on issues including ethics, security and the governance of AI at a fundamental level, laying the foundation for pragmatic and in-depth cooperation between the two countries in the field of AI governance.

Cooperation between China and France can drive collaboration in the field of AI between China and Europe as a whole, Liu Wei, director of the human-machine interaction and cognitive engineering laboratory at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Liu Wei said both sides have great potential in working together on research into the development and application of AI technology, as well as laws and regulations.

Liu Baocheng, director of the Center for International Business Ethics of the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times that both sides have significant complementary relationships in this field. Also, China’s rapid development of new quality productive forces presents an opportunity for France to participate in China’s development.

The next step will involve greater participation by research institutions and businesses to ensure the true implementation of the declaration Liu Baocheng noted.

Through closer AI governance cooperation, both sides can systematically share more solutions to address risks, such as privacy breaches and the lack of an effective ethical AI security framework, thereby minimizing and avoiding common risks and challenges facing all of humanity, Zeng said.

Another keyword mentioned in the declaration is “cooperation.” It said that international cooperation in AI governance will rely on work conducted at the UN level, and China and France will help strengthen the network capabilities of all countries, especially developing countries, to address network threats related to AI development and bridge the digital divide among developing countries.

The joint declaration between China and France conveyed an image of responsible major powers to the world, presenting an overall approach to global AI governance, Liu Baocheng said. 

Zeng said the declaration is in line with China’s Global AI Governance Initiative, and the signing of the declaration is also one of the representative efforts China has made at the specific implementation level as a responsible AI power, after having proposed the initiative.

Regarding the idea of China-France cooperation to counter the “AI hegemony” of the US, Liu Baocheng said that in the field of AI, the US has been seeking to dominate the global rules system. However, the reality is that each country has its own strengths, and the hegemonic mind-set of the US is unlikely to be realistically delivered. The attempt by the US to rule the world with AI is a thing that is not sustainable, he noted. 

Diplomatic Channel: Former French PM Raffarin signals high hopes for President Xi’s visit, emphasizes respect for civilizations, frank dialogue

Editor’s Note:

Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Sunday morning for state visits to France, Serbia and Hungary at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron of the Republic of France, President Aleksandar Vucic of the Republic of Serbia, and President Tamás Sulyok and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary. Ahead of his visit to France, Global Times reporters Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi
(GT) interviewed former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin
(Raffarin), talking about the significance of the state visit for China-France relations, reviewing the future development of bilateral ties, and discussing the role of China-France relations in China-EU relations.

Former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin Photo: Courtesy of Raffarin

Former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin Photo: Courtesy of Raffarin

GT:  This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France. Could you share some important historical moments and achievements from these 60 years of China-France relations?

Raffarin: First of all, General de Gaulle’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1964 is itself historic. France’s support for the Chinese authorities in their fight against the SARS pandemic in 2003 was a major act, as were the opening of the Airbus factory in North China’s Tianjin and the commissioning of the first Franco-Chinese nuclear reactor in South China’s Guangdong Province. I am also very struck by the beauty of the Beijing Opera House designed by French architect Paul Andreu. There have been many joint creations across numerous fields. In 60 years, I have made more than 100 trips to China; 100 opportunities for very fruitful sharing.

GT: Over the last 60 years, what have been the changes and constants in China-France relations?

Raffarin: The constant is France’s desire for independence in its policy with China. The change has been the development of the European Union, which has made diplomatic work more complex. All French presidents have followed, in relation to China, Charles de Gaulle’s major orientations: Respect for civilizations, frank discussions, and co-responsibility for the future.

GT: In your opinion, what is the core element that has allowed these relations to withstand tests and continue to progress?

Raffarin: The central core is the mutual cultural appetite. 

Analyzing the differences in our two civilizations is particularly fruitful as demonstrated by the philosopher François Jullien. 

Culture is the heart of our relationship. The joint curiosity has been intact for centuries. This is the source of the respect that allows us to live with deep differences.


GT: How do you assess the current relations between China and France? Given the challenges of globalization and changes in the international political and economic situation, in which areas can China and France strengthen cooperation?

Raffarin: France has stable relations with China unlike many other countries, including in Europe. Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron are two leading figures who know each other very well. They have spent hours and hours in discussion together. 

The priority of our future relations, in my opinion, is building peace. In the short term, it is to act together for peace in Ukraine. In the medium term, it is to build a new multilateralism capable of allowing peace and development on our common planet.

GT: In your opinion, what role do China-France relations play within the framework of China-Europe relations? How will Europe’s position in Chinese foreign policy evolve?

Raffarin: France’s role in Europe is very active. We defend our ideas vigorously in all European forums. Our vision for Europe’s strategic independence is gaining ground. 

We are allies of the US, but do not want to be aligned with their interests. Donald Trump’s place in the American debate convinced many European leaders that it is urgent to promote our sovereignty. 

I think that the China-France dialogue is the best way to bring about peaceful solutions.

GT:  2024 is the year of China-France culture and tourism, as well as the Olympic year for France. Could you present the plans for cultural cooperation and exchanges between China and France for this year?

Raffarin: Many public and private initiatives will mark this year. For example, the exhibition on Versailles and the Forbidden City are particularly creative. A cultural forum bringing together Chinese and French artists will take place in November in Deauville. France will be the guest of honor at the Shanghai Expo. And More than 100 initiatives are already being programmed. 

Cultural exchanges are the best medium for fostering mutual understanding and reciprocal respect.

GT:  What role do cultural and human exchanges play in China-France relations?

Raffarin: We will prioritize student exchanges because they are the best vectors for promoting joint projects and creating deep and authentic ties between the two countries.

GT: In the fields of emerging technologies, sustainable development, and green energy, how can China and France seek new opportunities for cooperation?

Raffarin: I think we need to work together on the theme that is very popular among young Chinese and French people, which I call “the Planetization of politics.” 

Only recently has the Planet become a political object. There is a shared conviction among the world’s youth: We must protect the Planet to protect Humanity. 

Global governance needs consensus to progress. It is around this theme that it should be possible to invent a new multilateralism that will correct the current multilateralism’s impotence.

GT:  Given the current uncertainty of the international commercial environment, what are the challenges and opportunities facing China-France economic cooperation? How do you view 2023’s debates in Europe on “de-risking” and this year’s on “over capacity” in China? 

Raffarin: We must understand our differences to avoid misunderstandings. There is a real consensus in Europe that public money should be used to help Europeans, for example, buy electric vehicles. But these subsidies are not intended to assist the production of foreign industries. 

Since the WTO is currently partially blocked, trade regulation should proceed through bilateral agreements. The only real way to cooperate sustainably is to balance concessions.

GT:  What are your expectations regarding the visit of the Chinese top leader to France?

Raffarin: Peace in Europe. Let’s remain faithful to the spirit of General de Gaulle when, 60 years ago, he decided to establish diplomatic relations with China. The differences were probably greater then than now, but the central idea was that our destinies are linked and thus the path of cooperation is more fruitful than confrontation. For this, direct and frank dialogue, understanding of each other’s interests and values, and respect for sovereignty are necessary.