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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
Chirac seeks China business ties
President Jacques Chirac greets Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing
President Jacques Chirac is on his fourth visit to China
French President Jacques Chirac is in China where he is set to meet his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on Thursday as part of a four-day visit.

The trip aims to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

Mr Chirac is also expected to stress world unity in efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear arms programme.

China is seen as having a key role in trying to persuade North Korea to curb its programme after conducting a nuclear test earlier this month.

Both France and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council and have the power to veto UN resolutions.

Mr Chirac is also expected to voice Western concerns over China's human rights record and the country's growing environmental pollution problems.

Mr Chirac told business leaders that he expected Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Olympics would have "consequences on the evolution of this regime".

"China is going to find itself at the centre of the world's attention and should adapt to certain realities - notably with regard to human rights," he said.

Strategic partnerships

Mr Chirac is accompanied on the visit by 30 French industry chiefs from the banking, energy and transport sectors, who are hoping to secure deals to provide rail transport and nuclear reactors to China.

French and Chinese flags fly in Tiananmen Square
France hopes to secure its trading position with China

France is now the third largest European investor in China and its exports to China are steadily growing.

France also hopes to build strategic partnerships with China in telecommunications, engineering and banking.

Mr Chirac can count on a warm welcome in China, where he has been a regular visitor in the last decade, says the BBC's Jill McGivering.

He is a staunch advocate of engagement with Beijing, even when it is faced criticism on its human rights record and trade policies, our correspondent adds.




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