Sino-French ties gain momentum with energy, aviation cooperation deals

09:46, December 22, 2009      

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Premier Wen Jiabao proposed on Monday to advance China's economic and trade relations with France to a new level as the two countries unveiled a nuclear energy joint venture and inked two deals on aviation cooperation.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R) shakes hands with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon during a welcoming ceremony Wen holds for Fillon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 21, 2009. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

"We should take the opportunities of tackling the international financial crisis, climate change, energy security and other global challenges, and change our ways of thinking and deepen cooperation to advance bilateral economic and trade relations to a new level," Wen told visiting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

"We should follow the opening and win-win principles, oppose trade protectionism, and take effective measures to help bilateral trade resume growth at an early date," Wen proposed.

Statistics showed that the China-France trade volume has been falling since the third quarter of 2008, with China's exports to France declining significantly.

According to China's customs data for the first three quarters of this year, the two countries' trade volume was about 24.6 billion U.S. dollars, down 15.6 percent from the same period last year. It was the first year-on-year decline since 1996.

ENERGY COOPERATION

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Fillon attended the unveiling ceremony in Beijing for the Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company Ltd., which also marked the official start of construction of the Taishan nuclear power station in south China's Guangdong Province.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (R) and visiting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon attend the launch of Taishan nuclear power plant in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 21, 2009. Li Keqiang and Fillon commenced the construction of Taishan nuclear power plant here Monday, a Sino-French joint project in south China's Guangdong Province.(Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

The joint venture, the largest new energy cooperation project between China and France, is to take charge of constructing and operating the first-phase project of the power station.

According to China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. Ltd. (CGNPC), the joint venture has a registered capital of about 16.7 billion yuan (2.5 billion U.S. dollars).

Electricite de France holds a 30-percent stake and CGNPC 70 percent.

A significant project in Sino-French cooperation on new energy, the nuclear power station would play an active and important role in promoting the two nations' utilization of advanced nuclear technology and their bilateral relations, Vice Premier Li said at the ceremony.

According to CGNPC, the first-phase project of the nuclear power station got a total investment of 50.2 billion yuan (7.35 billion U.S. dollars), and would include the construction of two units using the Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) technology, with each unit capacity up to 1.75 million kilowatts.

According to sources, the two units of the first-phase project are to be respectively put into commercial operation in 2013 and 2014, and will annually generate 26 billion kilowatt-hours on-grid energy when completed. Compared with coal-fired power plant, the project can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 22.7 million tons each year.

The construction of the first-phase project is expected to last52 months.

Fillon said France hoped to advance cooperation with China on nuclear fuel reprocessing, personnel training and research on the fourth generation nuclear reactor.

The France-China cooperation on new energy would further demonstrate the two countries' responsible attitude towards environmental protection and tackling climate change, said Fillon, noting the two sides would promote bilateral cooperation in the spirit of mutual trust.

Both France and China paid great attention to technology innovation and energy independence, said Fillon.

As a major energy-producer and consumer in the world, China has been making continuous efforts to improve its energy structure.

When attending the UN Climate Change Summit, President Hu Jintao said China would endeavor to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15 percent by 2020.

According to the country's long and mid-term development plan of nuclear power plants, nuclear power installed capacity will reach 40 million kilowatts by 2020 and will generate 260 billion to 280 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year, accounting for 4 percent to 6 percent of the country's total.

Actively developing nuclear energy was an important step taken by China to adjust energy structure, said Li Keqiang earlier Monday when meeting with Fillon.
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