Chirac on 'high-tech France'drive in Shanghai

11th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

SHANGHAI, Oct 11 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday targeted trade in high-tech industries in China's financial hub Shanghai on a visit that has already secured his country several billion dollars in business deals.

SHANGHAI, Oct 11 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday targeted trade in high-tech industries in China's financial hub Shanghai on a visit that has already secured his country several billion dollars in business deals.  

During a speech at Tongji University, Chirac told students France was not only a country of art and culture, but was also on the cutting edge of "knowledge and innovation" in the high-tech sector.  

"From its creative power, capacity for invention and the feasibility of its industry, France is a natural partner for China," Chirac said.  

French enterprises were engaged in all of China's key high-tech areas, representing "a huge field of cooperation that our two countries can cover together," Chirac said.  

France was also at the forefront of the biggest European technological projects, including the Ariane rocket, Airbus planes and high-speed trains, as well as the ITER energy project to realize nuclear fusion of which both the European Union and China are already associated with, he said.  

Later Monday, Chirac lunched with retired Chinese leader Jiang Zemin and opened the Pasteur Institute of Shanghai, a research centre for endemic and emerging diseases.  

Chirac is on the final day of a four-day visit to China that has secured several billion euros worth of business deals in Beijing and taken over the domestic media with cultural and art events coupled with the "Year of France" in China which formally began Sunday.  

His Asian tour began with a stopover in Singapore, before moving on to attend the Asian European Meeting in Hanoi last week.  

Following his Saturday summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Chirac met with Premier Wen Jiabao and parliamentary head Wu Bangguo on Sunday.  

In an apparent attempt to quell a growing chorus of voices over an alleged lack of concern about China's dismal human rights record during the trip, Chirac alluded in his Monday speech to the need to respect basic rights and democracy.  

France hoped "to see equivalent progress in the state domain on rights and democracy to accompany the progress in the economy and society," he said.  

Among the business deals inked in Beijing were contracts for French industrial giant Alstom for the sale of locomotives and trains to China worth up to EUR 1.0 billion (USD 1.23 billion).  

The company also inked a letter of intent for the sale of EUR 400 million in hydroelectric turbine and pumping equipment to the provinces of Hubei, Henan and Guangdong.  

Airbus Industrie announced an order for six Airbus A-319, while China also agreed to purchase 700,000 tonnes of French wheat at a price of USD 150 million, the first Chinese order of French wheat in several years.  

No deal was announced about a potential sale of French nuclear reactors to China, but France still appeared to be among the front-runners in the supply of four 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors.  

In the Chinese press, Chirac won praise for his efforts to lift the European Union arms embargo, place on China following the brutal 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy protests on 1989.  

"France is still one of the world's top arms manufacturers and Beijing hopes to seek Paris' help to lift the EU arms embargo against China..., China could develop this new area of cooperation with France... when the EU embargo is ultimately lifted," the China Daily said in an editorial.  

"Chirac's state visit to China is perhaps the highlight of his Asian tour, as he fully recognizes the rise of China in Asian and international affairs," the paper said.  

On Tuesday morning, he was scheduled to visit the Shanghai metro where he was expected to announce another new contract for Alstom.  

Meanwhile a Paris-based rights group called on Chirac to help seek the release of a jailed Chinese journalist and cyber-dissident during his visit to Shanghai.  

Huang Jinqiu was sentenced to 12 years in prison for subversion on September 27 and was being held in a jail in Changzhou, about 300 kilometres (180 miles) from Shanghai, Reporters Without Borders said.  

Huang, a regular contributor to dissident news website Boxun, was arrested on September 13, 2003 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province in the east of the country, the group said.



Subject: French News

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