French President Jacques Chirac arrived in
Beijing Wednesday on a four-day state visit to China a country he says
will affect the future of the world. [Chirac
dines on La Cuisine Chinoise, savours favourite dishes of
Analysts said that Chirac could use the visit, widely
believed to be perhaps his last trip to China as president, to boost France's
role and seek business benefits for French companies. Chirac, 73, will end his
second term in office next year. [Busy Schedule]
France's President Jacques Chirac
enters a car after arriving at Beijing airport October 25, 2006. French
President Chirac leads an elite business contingent to China on Wednesday,
hoping to seize a greater share of the world's fourth largest economy on a
4-day state visit. [Reuters] [More Photos on Chirac
Today, he is scheduled to meet top Chinese leaders,
including President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao.
In the political arena, issues such as the nuclear test conducted this month
by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as well as the Iran nuclear issue
will definitely be on the agenda of the summit between Hu and Chirac, Wang
Chaohui, a researcher at the European Studies Institute affiliated to the China
Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told China Daily yesterday.
The two sides are also expected to talk about the lifting of an EU arms
embargo on China, trade disputes as well as China's presence in Africa, said
Chirac is devoted to building a "comprehensive strategic partnership" with
China and the current visit could set the tone for the future development of
bilateral relations, no matter who succeeds him next year, according to Wang.
"Never in the long history of France-China relations have our communications
been so close, our mutual trust so much deepened and high-level contacts so
frequent," said Chirac in an interview with Xinhua before the trip.
"Part of France's place in the world of tomorrow depends on its ability to
build a particularly strong relationship with China," Chirac's spokesman Jerome
Bonnafont was quoted as saying.
On the economic front, Chirac is travelling with some 30 French business
leaders and hopes to clinch agreements in areas such as nuclear energy and rail
transport where France enjoys technological advantages.
The chief executives include Jean-Martin Folz of Peugeot, Areva's Anne
Lauvergeon and Alstom's Patrick Kron, along with Societe Generale Chairman
Daniel Bouton and Airbus' Louis Gallois.
Airbus is reportedly keen to win orders on the trip, and nuclear reactor
maker Areva has bid for a contract with Germany's Siemens AG against
Westinghouse Electric Co and Russia's AtomStroyExport.
Alstom, the world's biggest maker of high-speed trains, aims to boost sales
in China, while France's Societe Generale bank wants to collaborate with
Guangdong Development Bank.
Bilateral trade volume reached US$20.65 billion last year and totalled
US$9.52 billion in the first five months of this year, up 21.2 per cent over the
same period of last year.