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China to buy Airbus jets in $17b deal

Zhao Yinan and Li Xiaokun
Updated: Oct 30,2015 7:46 AM     China Daily

China signed a $17 billion deal on Oct 29 to buy 130 jets from European multinational aerospace and defense corporation Airbus Group SE.

The deal was one of 13 witnessed by Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel following a meeting between the two leaders in Beijing.

Premier Li said he and Merkel had “candid and productive” talks-their scheduled half-hour closed-door meeting was extended to more than an hour.

During their talks, Premier Li suggested setting up an intergovernmental mechanism to coordinate the two countries’ development strategies.

China is promoting its Made in China 2025 strategy, while Germany has put forward its Industry 4.0 strategy to integrate conventional industry and information technology.

“We need to learn advanced technologies and concepts from Germany,” the Premier said, adding that China offers a big market for the European nation.

Merkel, making her eighth visit to China since she took office nearly 10 years ago, said her country’s relations with China are comprehensive.

Besides the aircraft order, the two nations agreed to start a feasibility study on free trade talks as soon as possible.

Merkel said both countries will push for the finalization of an investment treaty between China and Europe, which would be the precondition for cross-continental free trade talks.

China and Germany also pledged to set up a Sino-European stock exchange joint venture to promote the internationalization of the renminbi. The move comes after London issued renminbi-dominated bonds earlier this month.

Reuters reported that the Frankfurt-based facility will become the first authorized platform dedicated to renminbi trading outside the Chinese mainland.

Germany will set up six more visa processing centers in China-all outside Beijing-to speed applications and encourage more Chinese people to visit Germany.

The two countries will also soon begin talks on giant panda loans to the Berlin Zoo.

President Xi Jinping also met with Merkel.

He told her that China welcomes Germany taking part in the development of central and western China and also in the modernization of north-eastern areas.

Merkel said Germany supports inclusion of the renminbi in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights basket and backs China’s application for membership of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

After meetings in Beijing, Merkel is scheduled to fly to Hefei, capital of Anhui province, for a one-day visit on Oct 30 accompanied by the Premier, a native of Anhui. Merkel is expected to visit a local family and a village school in Hefei.

“As an inland province, Anhui will play an important role in the future development of urbanization and upgrading of manufacturing in China,” said Cui Hongjian, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies and an expert on Sino-European relations.

Cui also said China’s cooperation with Germany is based on shared benefits.