Paris: French President Nicolas Sarkozy wooed
China`s visiting leader on Thursday with a red carpet welcome and
Chinese flags fluttering in the streets of Paris. In return,
France expects billions in contracts for airplanes and energy.
The three-day state visit by Hu Jintao marks a dramatic
turnaround from the tense ties of two years ago, when Sarkozy
threatened to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing
Olympics out of anger about China`s treatment of Tibet.
That stance brought fears that France could lose big
business in China, and Sarkozy`s tone has changed. To the
distress of human rights groups, Sarkozy`s advisers say he
wants to avoid confrontation and go for convergence during
Sarkozy and French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy greeted
Hu at the airport on his arrival today, an honour the French
president rarely grants visitors. The two leaders reviewed
French troops, then headed into Paris.
The two leaders then paraded in a motorcade down the
Champs-Elysees, with French and Chinese flags hanging overhead
and spectators gathered behind barricades.