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Chinese President Arrives in Portugal

Chinese President Hu Jintao and his wife leave the Hotel Negresco in Nice, southern France, 06 Nov 2010

Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Portugal Saturday for the second leg of his European tour. Earlier, he concluded a visit to France that was marked by a flurry of business deals and discussions on reforming the global financial system.

French officials have expressed satisfaction about Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to France, saying the two sides have agreed on the need for reforming the global economic system. That is a key theme French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to promote when he takes over the presidency of the G20 group of industrialized nations next week, after a summit in South Korea.

An aide to Mr. Sarkozy told reporters the two presidents had reached a real convergence of views on ways to avoid another global financial crisis. Among other areas, Mr. Sarkozy wants to reduce the volatility of commodity markets and diversify currency reserves. But China disagrees with European and American calls to let its currency appreciate more rapidly.

Mr. Hu's visit to France was also marked by a series of business contracts in sectors like telecommunications and power that amounted to more than $20 billion.

While business leaders have hailed Mr. Hu's visit, human rights groups criticized it, saying France should speak out about China's human rights record. But in the Riviera city of Nice, where Mr. Hu spent Friday and early Saturday, Mr. Sarkozy said the two sides had discussed all subjects.

Mr. Sarkozy said there were no taboos in the discussions with the Chinese leader, including human rights. He said it is important the two sides respect each other and recognize their different points of view, and it is important to encourage China. Asked specifically if he had raised the subject of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, Mr. Sarkozy said all subjects were addressed.

Mr. Hu's stopover in Portugal comes as Lisbon is struggling to cut huge a public debt and deficit. China has already bought bonds from Spain, another country with a high deficit.