The visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping last March was organized at the request of China in the context of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with France. But in Lyon, the event marked over two centuries of cultural, trade, institutional and academic exchanges with China. The visit was the occasion to celebrate both the past and the future.


The visit was spread out over two days(March 25 and 26) and organized around three main events:

– A gala dinner, which was held at the Hôtel de Ville de Lyon with a select group of attendees. The Chinese president and his delegation met with the Senator-Mayorof the city of Lyon, Gérard Collomb, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, along with other hand-picked, influential political figures.

– A visit to the labs of bioMérieux, Lyon global company in the biotechnologies sector, in China for many years. Welcomed by Alain Mérieux (founder of bioMérieux) and his son Alexandre, the Chinese leader and his wife Peng Liyuan were greeted by local representatives and staff before a group meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Geneviève Fioraso. Speeches were then made to leading figures in business and academia.
On this occasion, Xi Jinping honored his hosts: “Mérieux’s story may be described as that of the battle between a man and a virus.” It is also worth noting that Alain Mérieux was also chosen by the French government to launch France’s 50th China anniversary celebrations.

– The visit at the Franco-Chinese Institute of Lyon and the inauguration of a new space, the “Center for the promotion of Lyon-China relations, the History Museum of the Franco-Chinese Institute.” The Institute currently occupies two floors and will soon offer a place for gatherings, in addition to a new space for the museum. The Chinese president’s visit to Lyon is a new step towards strengthening the Franco-Chinese partnership from both a cultural and economic perspective.

It is still too early to measure the impact of the visit on the development of concrete business partnerships with China but the visit remains very positive in terms of the international representation of the city.Two days of discussions and meetings allowed for Lyon’s increased visibility in the Chinese media.

In fact, more than 126 Chinese journalists were received in Lyon to cover the event and follow the president during his diplomatic visit. At the same time, several major projects were initiated during the visit. In fact, the Chinese president’s visit was an opportunity for Aéroports de Lyon to discuss the proposed creation of a route linking Shanghai or Beijing and Lyon within the next two years.

This event thus reinforced the willingness of Aéroports de Lyon to undertake a commercial partnership with major Chinese airlines. Meanwhile, Keolis and the Shentong Metro Group announced plans to create a facility aimed at training Chinese managers in tramway engineering by 2015. The companies will therefore merge under the name of Shangaï Keolis Métro.