France’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation Frédérique Vidal and China’s Minister for Science and Technology Wang Zhigang hosted the 14th French-Chinese joint science and technology committee in Beijing on 25 February 2019.
Participants included Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) Chairman and CEO Antoine Petit, and Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM) Chairman and CEO Gilles Bloch. CNRS and INSERM both work directly with CNES on the space component.
France-China space cooperation began with the signing of an intergovernmental agreement in 1997. Today, it centres around three areas—oceanography, astrophysics and space medicine. Following last October’s launch of the CFOSat oceanography satellite, CNES and CNSA are currently working on the SVOM astrophysics mission ahead of its launch in 2021.
This joint committee focused on several areas regarding bilateral relations, technological innovation strategies, and the status and potential of French-Chinese scientific and technological innovation. For the space component, Jean-Yves Le Gall explained that future France-China cooperation would focus on the areas of climate and solar system exploration, considered priorities by both parties. He went on to list nine specific avenues that are set to guide French-Chinese space discussions over the coming years.
On the committee sidelines, Jean-Yves Le Gall said: “Since 1997, cooperation between our two countries has been endlessly enriched with new subjects. France and China continue to work together and new opportunities are to be encouraged, as I saw in my recent discussions with my CNSA counterpart Zhang Kejian. As of March 2019, France-China cooperation will be under the spotlight once more, with the continued joint analysis of the first science results from CFOSat, whose in-orbit operation has proved absolutely outstanding.”