Chinese president tours car plant during Europe visit

April 02, 2014 - 7:56:41 am

BRUSSELS: Winding up an 11-day visit to Europe taking in mega business deals and stately banquets, President Xi Jinping toured China’s biggest Belgian factory yesterday, a Volvo car plant.

And before flying home he gave a keynote speech to 300 students and VIPs including Belgium’s royal couple, calling for ever deeper bonds between China and Europe, who together make up a quarter of the world’s population and represent a third of the world economy.

“The relationship between China and the EU has become one of the most important financial relationships in the world,” said the Chinese leader who, in France, one of four stops on his tour, signed 50 deals worth ¤18bn ($25bn).

“Having said that, there is still room for greater growth in China-EU relations: their potential has yet to be fully tapped,” Xi said in the fairytale medieval town of Bruges in northern Flanders.

Earlier in Ghent, where he was flanked by Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Xi saw off the 300,000th Volvo car produced there for the Chinese market — an XC60 — since the brand was bought by the Hangzhou-based Geely from Ford in 2010.