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Hu sees Boeing selling many planes in China

Written by: Staff

EVERETT, Wash, Apr 19 (Reuters) Chinese President Hu Jintao, on the eve of a summit with US President George W Bush, today told employees of aircraft maker Boeing Co China would need to buy 2,000 new planes in the next 15 years.

On the second day of a four-day visit to the United States, Hu toured three Boeing assembly lines and was briefed on the new Boeing 787 jet currently under development, which the company touts as its ''super-efficient airliner.'' China recently signed a deal with the company to buy 80 737 jets worth about 4 billion dollars.

Anticipating pressure from Bush to take steps to trim his country's massive trade surplus with the United States which reached 202 billion dollars last year, Hu predicted a bright future for Boeing in the Chinese market.

In a speech to several hundred company employees at the plant near Seattle, Hu said his country would need to buy 600 new planes in the next five years and 2,000 by 2021, as the Chinese economy continued to race ahead.

''This clearly points to a bright tomorrow for future cooperation between China and Boeing,'' he said, noting that the US company currently had two-thirds of the Chinese commercial aviation market.

EXUDES CHARM Hu went out of his way to exude charm, accepting a baseball hat with the company logo from an employee and then hugging the surprised worker. Chinese reporters said they had never seen anything similar from Hu.

Hu was scheduled to fly to Washington, DC, later on Wednesday for his White House meeting with Bush tomorrow.

Hu dined with about 100 US political and corporate leaders on Tuesday night at the home of Bill Gates, whose Microsoft Corp. has been a major victim of Chinese software piracy. In a meeting earlier with Gates, Hu reiterated China would move against software pirates.

US industry groups estimate 90 per cent of DVDs, music CDs and software sold in China are pirated. The intellectual-property issue is also expected to be on the agenda when Hu meets Bush, as part of the discussion on China's 202 billion dollars 2005 trade surplus with the United States.

In his dinner remarks, Hu stressed the expanding relationship between China and the United States.

''Today, many cargo ships are very busy crossing the Pacific Ocean, laden with the rich fruit of our strong trade ties and friendship between our two peoples,'' Hu said.

''I am sure that with the further deepening of China's reform and opening up, we are going to see an even broader prospect for the economic cooperation and trade between China and Washington state and China and the United States as a whole.'' China sought to quell US trade complaints before Hu's visit by signing contracts worth 16.2 billion dollars while Vice Premier Wu Yi visited the United States last week.

US officials have complained that China is moving too slowly to revalue its currency, the yuan, which they see as badly undervalued, making Chinese exports artificially cheap.

Bush has also said he would bring up Iran's nuclear program. He wants China to cooperate in putting more pressure on Tehran through the UN Security Council.

A Chinese spokesman told reporters yesterday, ''We hope that we will continue to work toward a peaceful resolution of the Iran issue.'' Hu yesterday said that China and the United States ''share common strategic interests in a wide range of areas, particularly in maintaining world peace, promoting global economic growth, combating terrorism and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.'' REUTERS SC PM0125

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