US aerospace giant Boeing Co has signed deals with Chinese firms to sell 300 aircraft and open a completion center in the Asian country, the Xinhua news agency reported, as Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) began his first state visit to the US.
The Xinhua report, datelined from Seattle where Xi started his trip on Tuesday, gave no immediate details of the models of the airplanes bought by a group of Chinese companies or the value of the sale.
However, it is likely to be one of the biggest of recent times. State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC, 中國商用飛機) on Tuesday also signed an agreement with Boeing to set up a “completion center” in China for Boeing 737 airliners, Xinhua said.
Xi yesterday was scheduled to visit Boeing’s main airplane factory in Washington state as he looks to highlight the economic importance of China to US firms, with the countries’ political relationship beset by tensions.
Later in his trip he is to travel to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House.
China is expected to add 6,330 new aircraft worth US$950 billion to its commercial fleet by 2034, Boeing said last month in its annual Current Market Outlook.
The Chinese buyers in the latest deal included China Aviation Supplies Holding Co (中國航材), ICBC Financial Leasing Co (工銀租賃) and China Development Bank Leasing (國銀租賃), Xinhua said.
In July, China Eastern Airlines (中國東方航空) — one of the country’s biggest carriers — agreed to purchase 50 of Boeing’s Next-Generation 737-800s in a deal valued at US$4.6 billion based on list prices.
A Boeing factory in China would represent a shift in the US giant’s strategy in the crucial market, where European rival Airbus has a final assembly operation for its medium-range Airbus A320 aircraft in the northern port of Tianjin and plans to open a new completion and delivery center for long-haul A330s.
A report by the Shanghai Securities News on Tuesday said plans for a Boeing facility in China’s eastern Zhejiang Province have already been submitted to the central government in Beijing for approval.
Boeing on Tuesday declined to comment on the Shanghai newspaper report. A spokesman for COMAC could not be reached yesterday.
COMAC is already developing a homegrown Chinese narrow-body aircraft, the C919, as well as a smaller regional jet, the ARJ21, in commercial hub Shanghai. The company also plans to develop its own wide-body passenger airplane over the next decade in cooperation with a Russian firm, industry officials said.
China’s top state planner also signed an agreement with Boeing on strategic cooperation in the civil aviation industry, Xinhua said, without giving details.
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