Nuclear energy and aerospace sectors in China and France anticipate a trade bonanza next week, with China potentially spending tens of billions on French equipment and technology when President Xi Jinping visits Paris.

China began sourcing French nuclear power generation technology as far back as the late 1970s, when Deng Xiaoping announced the nation would partner with France to build a nuclear power plant in Daya Bay in southern Guangdong, to quench the province’s thirst for energy and sell electricity to Hong Kong.

The latest landmark cooperative move is a joint venture by state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group and Électricité de France for the Taishan plant in Guangdong, home to the world’s first operational reactor of the novel third-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) configuration. The new plant will arguably be the world’s largest electrical generator as measured by nameplate capacity.

Of the 1,750 MWe gross delivered by the Taishan reactor, about 90 MWe will be used by plant systems such as large pumps to circulate cooling water, leaving 1,660 MWe net for supply to the grid, according to CGN. A second EPR at the same plant is slated to go live later this year.

Now CGN and EDF have further teamed up to enter third markets like the United Kingdom.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveil a plaque commemorating the installation of the world’s first EPR reactor during the first meeting of the French-Chinese business council in Beijing on January 9, 2018. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Airbus’ assembly and delivery center in China’s Tianjin. Photo: Xinhua

Cooperation between Airbus and China’s aviation industry also dates back to 1985, when the first Airbus passenger jet was introduced into China.

The total value of industrial cooperation between Airbus and China reached US$641 million in 2017, according to the European aviation giant, who inaugurated its A330 completion and delivery center in Tianjin in the same year.

It is said China could sign up to purchase more airliners from Airbus, including the A320 and A350, during Xi’s visit as Chinese firms are hungry for jets to carry travelers on domestic and international routes. Some carriers including Hainan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have reportedly switched allegiance to buy Airbus A320s after a second crash of Boeing’s 737 Max earlier this month. Airbus is also pinning hopes on orders from China to lift the prospects of its ailing A380 superjet, for which deep discounts are said to be on offer.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reports that Paris-based Thales, a company specializing in electrical and electronic systems for transportation and aviation, will provide in-flight entertainment systems for China’s indigenous narrow body airliner the C919.

Thales has also participated in the air traffic control project at Daxing International Airport, the new six-runway national hub due to be commissioned to serve Beijing this October.

Xinhua says that compared with other European countries, France has more multinational companies and a pertinent talent pool that can meet the rising infrastructure demand from China for big planes, high-speed trains and powerful nuclear power generators.

Read more: The A380 may keep flying in China’s skies