Chirac arrives in China on trade drive

8th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

CHENGDU, China, Oct 8 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac arrived in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Friday for a four-day state visit centred on economic cooperation.

CHENGDU, China, Oct 8 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac arrived in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Friday for a four-day state visit centred on economic cooperation.  

The presidential plane touched down at 10:00 pm at the airport in the capital of Sichuan province.  

Chirac, making his third visit to China since he took office in 1995, and his wife Bernadette were welcomed by Vice President Zeng Qinghong.  

On Saturday morning, the French leader will deliver a speech in Chengdu on the economic partnership between China and France, the main theme of a visit on which he is accompanied by around 50 industrialists.  

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and External Commerce Minister Francois Loos are also on the trip, which includes the official start on Sunday of the Year of France in China event.  

Chirac is due to arrive in Beijing on Saturday afternoon, where he will be met in the Great Hall of the People, adjacent to the Tiananmen Square by Chinese President Hu Jintao.  

A number of contracts will be signed during the visit which may help to redress France's trade deficit with China, which currently stands at around USD 6 million.  

France ranks as China's fourth-biggest trading partner in the European Union and it wants to climb up the scale.  

Bilateral exchanges stand at USD 13.4 billion yet French companies hold only 1.2 percent of the Asian giant's vast emerging market.  

French investment last year totalled USD 7.4 billion compared to USD 10 billion from Germany.  

Deals in the offing include a possible purchase of Airbus aircraft by China Southern and Air China including Airbus' future giant A380 superjumbos and for French engineering group Alstom to provide 180 locomotives and 200 automatic subway trains.  

In an interview with China News Service, Chirac said he would also make representations for a French project to build a high-speed train between Beijing and Shanghai.  

A deal could also be signed for the construction of new nuclear power stations.   In political terms, the visit is aimed at reinforcing the "strategic partnership" between the two countries.  

The French president will reaffirm his commitment to the "One China" principle that Taiwan is part of China, and his wish for a speedy end to a European Union's ban on arms sales to China.  

Sunday will see the launch of the Year in China in France with two lightshows and a concert by French electronic music virtuoso Jean-Michel Jarre  in the historic Forbidden City.  

There will also be more than 100 events promoting French culture including concerts, exhibitions, cinema festivals and others, lasting until the end of July 2005.  

Chirac's visit will continue with a stop in Shanghai on Monday and end with a trip to Hong Kong on Monday.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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