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Last Updated: Monday, 11 October 2004, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
Chirac welcomes China trade deals

Jacques Chirac with Hu Jintao in Beijing
Chirac and Hu drank to Franco-Chinese ties
French President Jacques Chirac has hailed business deals worth billions of euros as a sign that his state visit to China has been a success.

Mr Chirac - who is travelling with dozens of business leaders - stressed France's determination to break into China's huge emerging market.

He added that he had discreetly raised human rights issues during his trip.

The visit has been overshadowed by Mr Chirac's call for the end of an EU ban on selling arms to Beijing.

The embargo was imposed after the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protesters.

On Sunday Mr Chirac welcomed the deals - worth four billion euros - signed during his visit.

There is an important place to be taken in China and France must take it
President Jacques Chirac
They include a $1.25bn contract for French engineering group Alstom to rail infrastructure, an order for 16 Airbus jets, and the first major grain deal between the two countries for almost a decade.

Mr Chirac spoke of France's "long-term effort" in China - where its business presence lags behind that of some of its European partners.

"There is an important place to be taken in China and France must take it," he told French television.

Discretion

Regarding human rights, Mr Chirac said that a stand on the issue was both necessary and "a source of pride" for him.

But he added that to be effective in China, "a measure of discretion" was needed.

He was speaking after talks on Sunday with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

On Saturday Mr Chirac met President Hu Jintao.

During his visit the French president reaffirmed his call to lift the European Union's arms embargo on China.

Germany has taken the same position - but a number of European countries want to ban to continue, citing human rights concerns.

The US also argues that lifting it would send the "wrong signal" to China.

Critics have accused Mr Chirac of neglecting human rights concerns in China, in an effort to improve business ties.


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