Sarkozy clinches historic nuke deal with China

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday oversaw the signing of about 30 billion dollars in aviation, nuclear and other deals in what he described as an unprecedented day of trade with China.

Sarkozy clinches historic nuke deal with China
The two major agreements announced on the second day of Sarkozy's visit to China were contracts for European aerospace giant Airbus to deliver 160 aircraft and French firm Areva to build two nuclear reactors.

Sarkozy said the value of all the deals, signed after he met Chinese President Hu Jintao in the Great Hall of the People, was worth about 20 billion euros (29.6 billion dollars).

"The total amount of these contracts has never been matched before," Sarkozy told Hu shortly before the official signing ceremony, according to an AFP journalist there.

"I want to thank President Hu for his personal involvement," he said afterwards.

The most lucrative contract was for Airbus to deliver 110 A320s and 50 A330s in a deal a spokesman for the European firm said was worth 17.4 billion dollars, based on the list price.

Airbus spokesman Robin Tao said the agreement was its biggest ever in dollar terms with China, which has the world's fastest-growing aviation market.

Areva said its contract to build two third-generation nuclear reactors for China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) in southern China was worth eight billion euros (11.9 billion dollars) and was also historic.

"It's a record. In the history of the civilian nuclear industry, there's never been a deal of this magnitude," Areva chief executive Anne Lauvergeon said.

With China seeking to rapidly build up its nuclear power industry, the deal was important for Areva after losing out in July to US-based Westinghouse Electric in a bid to build four other nuclear reactors.

Other deals announced on Monday included a 750-million-euro telecommunication contract between Alcatel of France and China Mobile, and one worth 80 million euros for Eurocopter to provide China with 10 helicopters.

Hu and Sarkozy also discussed a range of international issues including Taiwan, the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme and the apparent progress in winding back North Korea's atomic weapons ambitions.

Speaking to French business leaders on Sunday night, Sarkozy said China should play a more active role in resolving the Iran nuclear standoff and other international disputes, including the domestic political tensions in Myanmar.

"China now plays an essential role in the global economy... by its very existence it changes the world balance. That brings with it rights, but also responsibilities, or rather duties," he said.

Sarkozy said on Monday he also raised the sensitive issue of human rights with Hu, urging China to do more, particularly in the areas of building a better legal system, improving media freedom and curbing the use of the death penalty.

"I have noted that China has made a lot of progress here (human rights) and that France has expectations that more progress can be made," he said.

Sarkozy also called for the yuan to appreciate faster, reiterating calls by many Western nations that are trying to deal with a widening trade imbalance with the Asian powerhouse.

"We need to arrive at currency rates that are harmonious and fair and that will benefit the global economy," he said.

"This means that, for its own sake as well, China needs to accelerate the appreciation of the yuan against the euro."

Sarkozy also responded to Hu's raising of the Taiwan issue, saying he opposed the island's plan to hold a referendum on UN membership next year.

He will leave China Tuesday after visiting Shanghai.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Kasım 2007, 18:17