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Xi visit cements ties with EU

2014-04-08 08:58 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

President Xi Jinping returned to Beijing on April 1 after spending more than a week in the European Union meeting with royalty, heads of state and government, business leaders, students - he even found time for a quick visit to see Hao Hao and Xing Hui, the two pandas that China presented to Belgium last year.  [Special coverage]

Xi started his visit in the Netherlands, where he signed a comprehensive partnership agreement with the Dutch Premier Mark Rutte aimed at deepening ties between the Netherlands and China. He also attended the Nuclear Safety Summit, an important meeting that allowed a number of bilateral sideline meetings, including one with US President Barack Obama, where the two leaders discussed current tensions in Ukraine and Northeast Asia. Xi also used the summit to call for restarting Six-Party Talks on the nuclear program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The next stop on his trip was France, which was designed to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Paris and Beijing. French President Francois Hollande, unpopular at home due to poor economic growth, was pleased to announce that contracts had been signed for deals worth 18 billion euros ($24.83 billion) including 70 Airbus planes. Airbus Helicopters and China's Avicopter also agreed to jointly produce 1,000 civilian helicopters over 20 years. Other deals covered the nuclear, financial, agricultural and automotive sectors.

There were also many business deals signed when Xi visited Germany, which accounts for just under half of all EU exports to China. Of special note was automobile giant Daimler announcing a production deal, worth 1 billion euros, with Beijing Automotive Industry Cooperation. The Bundesbank and China's central bank also agreed a declaration of intent to set up a yuan clearing and settlement center in Frankfurt, Germany's financial center and home of the European Central Bank.

On the political side, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Xi said they were committed to deepening ties and increasing coordination in the United Nations, G20 and other international bodies. On Ukraine, Merkel said that Germany stood for the observance of territorial integrity and international law. For his part, Xi said China sought to stay out of the internal affairs of other states and respected all nations' integrity and sovereignty. He added that China supported the constructive efforts the international community was making to reduce tensions.

Xi also met with German President Joachim Gauck who welcomed China's reform course and urged China to continue its push towards more liberal markets and a system of justice "in which nobody is to stand above the law".

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