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VOL. 43 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 22, 2019

Chinese leader visits France, giant Airbus deal announced

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PARIS (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping was greeted with full honors Monday during a state visit to France where he attended the signings of multibillion-dollar deals, including a major sale of 300 aircraft from European plane maker Airbus to China.

The French presidency said the China Aviation Supplies Holding Company has ordered 290 Airbus A320 and 10 Airbus A350 planes. The amount of the deal was not specified.  The global amount of the sale is estimated to 30 billion euros ($34 billion) at list prices, although buyers often secure discounts.

"We are honored to support the growth of China's civil aviation with our leading aircraft families," said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft. "Our expanding footprint in China demonstrates our lasting confidence in the Chinese market and our long-term commitment to China and our partners."

Other major business deals on renewable energy and the food industry were signed Monday in the presence of Xi at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, in addition to bilateral agreements.

Both countries agreed on a protocol allowing the French exports of chicken meat to China. The country last year opened its market to French beef products following French President Emmanuel Macron's state visit in the country in January 2018.

French energy company EDF and the China Energy Investment Corporation signed a deal worth 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to develop an offshore wind farm in Chinese waters.

Earlier in the day, Macron welcomed Xi and his wife, Peng Liuan, at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris. The French National Guard played the country's anthems. Both leaders laid a wreath at the Unknown Soldier from World War I whose tomb is under the monument.

They then headed to the Elysee presidential palace for a meeting and a ceremony for the signing of agreements.

Later, the Chinese president was to be honored with a state dinner at the Elysee, with guests including French actor Alain Delon, Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse and French-Chinese painter Yan Pei-Ming and Chinese actress Gong Li.

Xi and Macron also confirmed the opening of a branch for the Paris modern art museum, the Pompidou Center, in Shanghai this fall.

France also seeks China's cooperation on climate diplomacy in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's skepticism about climate change.

The Chinese leader, who previously visited Italy and Monaco to sign deals, arrived in France on Sunday evening where he had a private dinner with Macron in the resort town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera.

Xi will also meet in Paris on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Europe wants to increase its trade with China but on European terms, especially amid U.S.-China trade tensions.

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