France loans de Gaulle Citroen to China

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AFP

France is to send a Citroen DS riddled with bullets during an assassination attempt on Charles de Gaulle to China for events to mark the 50th anniversary of Franco-Chinese ties next year. AFP PHOTO JACQUES DEMARTHON

Paris - France is to send a Citroen DS riddled with bullets during an assassination attempt on Charles de Gaulle to China for events to mark the 50th anniversary of Franco-Chinese ties next year.

The Charles de Gaulle Foundation said the DS 19 will leave the northeastern village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, home to a memorial museum to the former French leader, on Thursday for its journey to China.

After arriving in China by plane, the car will be put on display in several Chinese cities as part of a travelling exhibition.

The DS is famed as the vehicle General De Gaulle and his wife were inside during an assassination attempt on the former French leader in August 1962 by opponents of Algerian independence.

In a scene recreated in the 1973 thriller “The Day of the Jackal”, the car containing De Gaulle and his wife sped off from the attempt despite being hit by some 20 bullets.

The DS, which was restored by Citroen and handed over to the museum in 2009, previously toured China in 2003.

De Gaulle was president in 1964 when France became the first Western power to establish full diplomatic relations with China.

France announced its recognition of Mao's Communists on January 27 that year in a brief communique that generated diplomatic shockwaves at a time when the United States was still insisting the nationalist regime in Taiwan should be considered the legitimate government of all of China.

Britain had recognised the Communist regime in 1950 but did not exchange ambassadors with Beijing until 1972.

At the time China was recognised, De Gaulle was seeking to forge a new “middle” role for France on an international stage dominated by the Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Two years later he was to withdraw France from NATO's military command structures.

France is currently attempting to bolster its trade and investment ties to China, which have lagged behind those of its main European partners. Both President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault have visited China since their Socialist Party came to power in 2012.

PSA Peugeot Citroen is itself in talks with Chinese giant Dongfeng about a shareholder tie-up that would give the French carmaker a much-needed cash injection.

Sapa-AFP


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