During the speech where he delivered the remarks at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, he also said that France hopes to send more scholars and students to China.
Crowds of excited students gathered outside of the university to welcome Macron on April 7.
In the university gymnasium, Macron urged the younger generation to embrace a “critical spirit” that would allow them to be “free, rational individuals” in his speech, before taking questions from select students in French.
“The international order is now weakened and we have a responsibility, China and France, to preserve it and at the same time to reinvent it in the light of the realities of the 21st century,” Macron told students.
“There is so much for us to do together”
“From Beijing to Guangzhou, I have met students who are learning our language, enthusiastic and dynamic young people, entrepreneurs keen to innovate, and artists inspired by France. There is so much for us to do together. Long live the friendship between China and France!” Macron wrote in a tweet following the visit.
Mathilde Mallet, head of Asia division, Campus France, described Macron’s visit as a “clear message of openness” towards the Chinese students, who already represent the third country of origin of international students in France.
Chinese mobility to France suffered as a result of the pandemic (-4% in five years), according to Campus France.
However, Chinese students are the most represented nationality in France’s business schools, growing by 84% over five years.
“The desire for mobility is very present, with the reopening of the borders two months ago,” Mallet told The PIE News.
“Student mobility between our two countries is well established. There is no doubt that it will increase in the future because it reflects the desire of students to benefit from better mutual knowledge of our higher education and research environments.”