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Chinese team embarks on buying trip to Europe

A Chinese delegation led by Commerce Minister Chen Deming is on a trip to Europe on a multibillion-dollar buying mission in a show of resolve to fight trade protectionism amid the global economic slump.

The team, comprising around 300 members, including government officials and business executives from sectors such as food, textile, mining and health care, will visit Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Britain, the countries Premier Wen Jiabao visited in January, according to a Ministry of Commerce statement yesterday.

It is precisely due to the severe circumstances of the global economic recession that the Chinese government organized this trade and investment promotion team to Europe to deepen trade ties between the two sides, Gao Hucheng, a deputy commerce minister, said in the statement.

The trade mission's visit is taking place ahead of President Hu Jintao's trip to London for a gathering of the Group of 20 nations on April 2.

"It shows China's determination to open up its market and willingness to cooperate with other nations to get through the hard times and push for the revival of the world economy," Gao said. He reiterated that China opposed trade protectionism, after the threat of such sentiment has raised its head amid the global economic downturn.

"This (protectionism) will do nothing to solve the problem, while opening the market to each other is the right choice to address the challenge," he said.

Earlier media reports said that the delegation could place orders worth 15 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion), if not higher, on a wide range of products, notably machinery, telecommunications and aerospace equipment. Experts expect goods and technology to be sourced to play a role in China's 4-trillion-yuan economic stimulus plan and the deals may also lead to easing export limits on China.

The European Union is China's largest trading partner while China is the EU's second-largest trading partner.


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