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France, China sign mega business deals

Beijing, Tuesday

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron oversaw the signing today of business deals worth billions of dollars, seeking better trade ties even as France’s finance minister boasted of rejecting those investments he likened to “pillaging”.

The two sides signed deals in the nuclear, aviation and other key sectors on the second day of Macron’s first state visit to China. Macron, who has positioned himself as the leading voice of the European Union, came to Beijing to discuss an ambitious agenda with Xi, the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.

“We are at a crucial point in the world,” Macron said alongside Xi after overseeing the signing ceremony, pointing to the common challenges presented by climate change and terrorism.

Xi said the two countries would “work hand-in-hand” and hold more high-level talks on trade. He also welcomed Macron’s endorsement of his cherished One Belt, One Road project, a $1 trillion revival of ancient Silk Road land and sea trading routes.

The deals included a memorandum of understanding for French energy giant Areva and Chinese counterpart CNNC to build a 10 billion euro ($12 billion) nuclear spent fuel reprocessing plant in China.

European aerospace giant Airbus announced an agreement with Chinese partners to increase production of its A320 jet in Tianjin to six aircraft per month. Chinese online retailer JD.com announced plans to sell French goods worth two billion euros ($2.4 billion) to Chinese consumers over the next two years, including high-end wine and cognac.

China also agreed to lift a 16-year-old embargo on French beef within six months, Macron said. Macron, accompanied by some 50 French business leaders, has laid on the charm during his visit, giving Xi a horse from the Republican Guard as a gift. He also delighted Chinese social media users by releasing a video of him learning to say his climate slogan — “Make the planet great again” — in Mandarin. —AFP

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