Silk Belt between Lion and Dragon: Lyon (France)–China ties
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In 1964, diplomatic relations between the Government of Charles de Gaulle of the French Fifth Republic and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were established at an ambassadorial level. This decision was made in the context of the Cold War and embodied in a French geopolitical strategy. At that time, China (PRC) had been isolated by the majority of the Western Powers, and its diplomatic engagement with France had allowed access to some new industrial products and technologies China had particular need of these as the Soviet Union (USSR) had withdrawn all of its technological investments in China during the Sino-Soviet Split in 1960. Some industrial contracts have been signed between the French and Chinese governments since the mid-1960s. Among these contracts, the contributions of the industrialists of Lyon were the most numerous. Paul Berliet (1918–2012) exhibited Berliet trucks in Beijing in 1965, and this was the origin of the first French technology transfer in China. In 1978, Alain Mérieux (1938–) presented in China human and veterinary vaccines from the Institut Mérieux. It is worth mentioning that these Lyon-China relations had originally been initiated by the silk industrialists of Lyon in the 18th century, and were further developed with the first commercial mission between 1843 and 1846. It was the first time since the 15th century, that missions referring to “New Silk Route” had been operated between Europe and China. Since the 19th century, the Lyon-China ties have also extended to many other industrial and technological fields, as well as to the field of education, with the establishment of the Franco-Chinese Institute of Lyon (Institut Franco-Chinois de Lyon) in 1919 in Lyon.
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