Profile: Late French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing
France’s former President Valery Giscard d’Estaing died Wednesday evening at the age of 94, local media reported.
The former president had been hospitalized several times in recent months for heart problems.
He made one of his last public appearances on Sept. 30, 2019 during the funeral in Paris of another former president, Jacques Chirac.
The following is a profile of Giscard d’Estaing. Born on Feb. 2, 1926 in the German city of Koblenz, Giscard d’Estaing joined the French Resistance when he was 18 years old to take part in the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany during World War II.
He then worked as a college teacher in the Canadian city of Montreal in 1948, and from 1949 to 1951, he studied at France’s elite university Ecole Polytechnique and public graduate school the Ecole Nationale d’Administration.
Giscard d’Estaing started his political career in 1956 as he won election to the National Assembly as a deputy for Puy-de-Dome, a department in a southeast-central French region.
He later served as Secretary of State for Finances from 1959 to 1962, and as Minister of Economy and Finance from 1962 to 1966.
He became finance minister for a second time in 1969.
In 1974, after the sudden death of President Georges Pompidou, Giscard d’Estaing announced his candidacy for the presidency and narrowly defeated Francois Mitterrand in the run-off.
During his seven years at Elysee, Giscard d’Estaing firmly supported European integration and worked with Germany’s former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to create the European Monetary System in 1979, which would give birth to the euro, Europe’s single common currency, two decades later.
He implemented several reforms, including the lowering of the age of civil majority from 21 to 18, and the legalization of abortion.
Giscard d’Estaing was friendly to China and visited China many times. He paid his first visit to China in 1980, and almost visited China every year in retirement.
He had not only witnessed but also been dedicated to the friendship between the two countries, continuously pushing forward bilateral cooperation in such fields as politics, economy and culture.
In 2013, he attended in Paris with other 300 visitors a photo exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.
Giscard d’Estaing was also a big fan of the Chinese culture and history, who could speak simple Chinese words and read some 1,000 Chinese characters.
He had read many Chinese classics, among which The Analects of Confucius was often at his bedside. Giscard d’Estaing gave a high evaluation to Chinese development in the past few decades, and thought that China is completing its return to the international stage after the introduction of the policy of reform and opening up.
He once said that France and China, both globally influential countries, should further upgrade bilateral cooperation based on the existing sound relationship.
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