To mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and the People's Republic of China, the French Foreign Ministry has produced an illuminating historical documentary.
In 1949, after 20 years of civil war, Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republic of China. The question that then faced foreign ministries around the world was whether to recognise the new Chinese government. Recognition took 15 years to arrive.
In 1964, on the initiative of General de Gaulle, China and France established relations that were "normal and therefore diplomatic". This film relates the negotiating manoeuvres that led up to this historic act.
Exclusive first-hand accounts from diplomats
Two former ambassadors, Claude Martin and Yves Pagniez, were in 1964 amongst the first to take up residence in the new China. Their accounts of this remarkable epic story are complemented by a historian, Christine Chaigne, an expert on law and Sinologist, who describes the changes in the international context leading up to the French head of state's diplomatic bombshell.
Illustrated with archive footage, the film throws light on the diplomatic issues raised by the decision, and also provides penetrating insights into the atmosphere of the "new China".