Chirac claims wide support for China policy

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Six weeks after refusing to co-sponsor a United Nations resolution on China's human rights record, the French president, Jacques Chirac, wound up two days in Peking last night claiming that "most European countries" supported his policy of engagement rather than confrontation with Peking.

Unlike his American counterpart, Mr Chirac also said he had "no worries" about the future of Hong Kong under Chinese rule. "We are turning a new page here, and I think we are turning it very well," he added.

Mr Chirac hailed yesterday's Sino-French declaration on a new "global partnership" as the most important bilateral document signed between Paris and Peking since 1964. French businessmen travelling with the presidentsigned deals including a $1.5bn contract for Airbus Industrie. Mr Chirac applauded their "spirit of conquest".

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