French President Emmanuel Macron signed US$15 billion worth of deals in his whistle-stop visit to Shanghai and Beijing this week, where he met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping three times.
French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Macron invited Xi to sample three types of French beef prepared by renowned chefs, including its indigenous Charolais beef, and the two also sipped wines from Bourgogne, Languedoc and Bordeaux when they toured the French pavilion at the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Macron also gave Xi a 41-year-old wine from the country’s legendary Romanée-Conti vineyard as a gift.
On Wednesday, Macron and Xi attended a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where US$15 billion worth of agreements and deals were signed, covering a raft of export and cooperation initiatives ranging from rebuilding Notre Dame to transferring nuclear reactor technologies.
About 20 French operators and food processors would also be licensed to sell poultry, pork and beef to China, including the sauté beef Xi tasted.
Macron’s second state visit to China since taking office in 2017 was also aimed at expediting the stalled talks for an investment accord between China and the European Union, with its signing expected in 2020.
China also issued €4 billion in sovereign bonds – the largest of its kind so far – via the Bourse de Paris prior to Macron’s visit, which attracted total subscriptions of about €20 billion, five times the original amount to be raised, according to the Chinese finance ministry.
Another highlight was Beijing’s pledge to encourage domestic carriers to buy more A350 jets from Airbus, the bestselling wide-body airliner assembled in Toulouse.
Xinhua reported on Thursday that the first A350 would roll off its assembly line for delivery to a Chinese carrier at Airbus’ delivery center in Tianjin by 2021, with an annual output capacity of 24.
Airbus and the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China have already been putting the finishing touches – including final wiring, engine test runs, seat installation and paint jobs – to the A350’s older siblings, the A320 and A330, at the sprawling Tianjin plant for delivery to Chinese airlines.
The Tianjin plant has delivered 450 A320s and 16 A330s since its commission in September 2008.
Major Chinese carriers including Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines have a total of 37 A350s either in operation or on firm order.