PARIS - China and France Thursday signed deals worth 16 billion euro ($22.8 billion) on uranium, technology and more than 100 Airbus planes purchases, and the two countries also agreed to a sweeping strategic partnership on nuclear power.
President Hu Jintao's three-day state visit to France opened with a red carpet welcome, Chinese flags flying on the streets of Paris and dinner at the Elysee Palace, as well as a flurry of deals.
Chinese President Hu Jintao shakes hands with French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) as Hu arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris Nov 4, 2010. President Hu is in France for a three-day visit. [Photo/Agencies]
Sarkozy said the two countries decided on "strategic cooperation without limits" on nuclear energy, from constructing plants to recycling fuel.
The deal expands on 30 years of nuclear cooperation between China and France, which gets about three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power and has deep knowledge of the field.
Hu and Sarkozy looked on as business leaders signed contract after contract. The Airbus deal alone - which will see airlines including Air China, China Eastern and China Southern buy 102 of the European consortium's A320, A330 and A350 models - is worth around $14 billion.
France's Areva nuclear engineering firm said it would sell China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp 20,000 tons of uranium over a decade. The contract is worth around $3.5 billion.
France is a major source of exports of goods and technology to China within the European Union (EU). In the first eight months of this year, two-way trade topped $29 billion, surging nearly 40 percent over the same period of last year.
Total trade between China and France is expected to reach $40 billion in 2010. Hu and his French counterpart agreed to double bilateral trade by 2015.
Cooperation is cultural as well: Paris' Louvre Museum and Beijing's Forbidden City agreed to work together on temporary exhibits and to share conservation and restoration techniques.
In a toast at a dinner table covered with gold ornaments and Champagne glasses, Sarkozy praised China's staggering recent development, adding: "The world is confidently waiting for (China) to take on all the responsibilities that accompany its rediscovered power."
Sarkozy believes China's support is essential as France takes the leadership of the Group of 20 major global economies starting November 12. Sarkozy said France will push for reform of the international monetary system and mechanisms to limit swings in commodity prices.
Sarkozy and French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy greeted Hu at the airport on his arrival, an honor the French president rarely grants visitors. Their motorcade rolled down the famous Champs-Elysees avenue, where French and Chinese flags flew from lampposts.
At the presidential palace, guards in silver helmets and on horseback awaited Hu as he arrived.
On Friday, the two leaders head to the French Riviera city of Nice for more talks and dinner at a cozy Provencal restaurant. Hu departs Saturday for Portugal.