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French President Visits China, Signs Multi-Billion Dollar Deals


China and France have signed multi-billion dollar nuclear and aviation deals as Nicolas Sarkozy makes his first visit to China as France's leader. As VOA's Heda Bayron reports from our Asia News Center in Hong Kong, the French president also pressed Chinese officials on a host of issues including climate change.

On his first day in China Sunday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said business with China is vital for the French economy.

To emphasize that point French companies capitalized on China's huge demand for energy and transportation, signing contracts Monday worth some $30 billion.

The European aircraft maker, Airbus, will sell 110 A320 jets and 50 of the wide-body A330 aircrafts to Chinese airlines, while Areva will deliver two nuclear reactors to Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation.

But the trip is not all about business. Mr. Sarkozy said he pressed China on a number of issues - including helping ease the political deadlock in neighboring Burma, improving China's human rights record, letting the yuan appreciate, and cleaning up the environment.

Mr. Sarkozy says China has the power to play a major role in fighting climate change. He says France is not asking China to give up development, but France would like Chinese development to be sustainable. The French president says his country is willing to help China reduce pollution.

China's rapid economic development has made the country among the world's top emitters of greenhouse gases, which many scientists think contribute to global warming.

China has been taking steps to improve the environment, including increasing its nuclear power generation to reduce reliance on coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Sarkozy will fly to Shanghai Tuesday to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao before leaving the same day for Paris.

Following Mr. Sarkozy's visit, the European Union and China will hold a summit Wednesday in Beijing to discuss trade issues. The EU and China are at odds over the safety of Chinese exports and the yuan exchange rate, which the EU considers too low and says contributes to Europe's huge trade deficit with Beijing.

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