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French Companies Flying High in China

On Saturday, French heavy engineering company Alstom said it had won contracts to supply 60 trains and 180 freight engines, as well as to equip three hydroelectric plants. The deals are worth a combined 1 billion Euros (US$1.2 billion).

Meanwhile, French oil major Total and China's Sinochem Corp. set up a 900 million yuan (US$109 million) joint venture to sell oil products at north China gasoline stations. Sinochem, one of China's Big Four oil conglomerates and a Fortune Global 500 company, will hold a 51 percent stake in the new JV.

Also on Saturday, French telecommunication equipment maker Alcatel finalized a deal worth 100 million Euros (US$120 million) with Chinese electronics company TCL Group to produce cell phones.

French utility company Suez announced that it had won a contract to build a water treatment plant in Qingdao, Shandong Province, and distribute water in the area for 25 years. Suez expects to increase the 2 million people it now serves in Qingdao to 12 million during that period.

And before the day was out, two Chinese airlines ordered 26 Airbus aircraft.

Flag carrier Air China ordered six A319s, which are scheduled for delivery in 2005. The carrier plans to deploy the aircraft mainly on routes linking high-altitude airports in southwest China's Sichuan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region.

"We will benefit from the A319's similarity with our A320s, which will help us reduce training and maintenance costs, and increase our operational flexibility," said Air China president Ma Xulun.

Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines will purchase 20 of Airbus' A330-300 aircraft.

"The purchase of the 20 A330-300s will satisfy the needs of China's strategic development and accommodate growing aviation market demand," said Luo Chaogeng, president of China Eastern Airlines.

Airbus's business in China has been steadily expanding since it first entered the country in 1985. The Airbus fleet in service on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao has grown to more than 250 today from just 29 in 1995. A topnotch training and support center, which represents a US$80 million investment by Airbus, is fully operational in Beijing. Five Chinese companies are already involved in producing parts for Airbus aircraft.

Other French companies, including France Telecom and the Dassault Group, also inked contracts with Chinese business partners over the weekend.

(China.org.cn October 10, 2004)

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