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Chirac's Visit to Strengthen Ties

French President Jacques Chirac said his country is willing to further strengthen co-operation with China, his spokesman told reporters on Monday.

Chirac has expressed his belief that China's development is an opportunity for economic growth and job creation in France, Jerome Bonnafont said.

"France must seize this chance because it has the capacity to be the partner of reference for China in many areas in which the strong features of the French economy can match the needs of China," the spokesman said.

Chirac started his Asian tour Tuesday, with a state visit to Viet Nam, where he will attend an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Hanoi.

Chirac will start a five-day state visit to China on Friday.

The two countries have a similar outlook on many political issues, but France lags behind other European Union (EU) countries in terms of investment in China and has a long way to go amid fierce competition from countries such as the United States and Japan, he noted.

France is China's fourth-largest trading partner in the EU, well behind Germany, although bilateral trade grew strongly to US$13.4 billion last year and is expected to increase by 40 per cent this year.

President Chirac and more than 50 French industrialists will launch a "concerted offensive" to win a larger slice of China's market, said Bonnafont.

(China Daily October 6, 2004)

Chirac to Visit China from Oct. 8 to 12
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