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Translation error over 'cancelled' Airbus order
By Lu Haoting (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-02 08:13

A newspaper that reported China had pulled out of a deal to buy 150 aircraft from Airbus, causing a stir among the national media, had mistranslated the original story by a United States news agency.

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The paper, based in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in an article quoted Bloomberg News as saying: "Airbus does not expect to realize its target, set in 2005, to sell 150 jets to China this year." The report topped all major Chinese web portals Sunday.

But the original story from Feb 25 actually said that the France-headquartered aircraft manufacturer has seen its "plans to sign a fourth Chinese order for more than 150 planes since 2005 delayed".

The attention the erroneous article received was a reflection of the sensitivity surrounding the soured Sino-French relations, according to analysts, as it came at a time when a Chinese trade delegation had signed a slew of procurement contracts worth about $13 billion with Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Airbus, which has clinched three deals to sell around 450 aircraft to China since 2005, yesterday declined to comment on the reports.

However, Laurence Barron, president of it's China division, told China Daily last Monday the company expects its global aircraft orders this year to reach only half the number it received in 2008 due to the economic slowdown. He declined to forecast orders from within China, saying only that China had "not escaped" the global financial crisis.

Firms around the world have been hit hard by the recent fall in traffic, while the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in December that Chinese airlines would experience "more stringent" processes to buy or lease planes in 2009.

It also encouraged airlines to cancel or defer taking delivery of aircraft this year to maintain a balance between demand and supply. China Eastern Airlines, one of the country's three largest carriers, said last Thursday it would be canceling Airbus and Boeing orders.