China, Denmark sign deals worth billions as Hu ends visit
(COPENHAGEN) - Chinese President Hu Jintao signed deals worth billions of euros with Denmark Saturday and got words of encouragement on his country's bid to expand its influence in the oil-rich Arctic.
Hu wrapped up his landmark three-day state visit to Denmark -- the first ever by a Chinese head of state -- meeting with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and signing a raft of partnerships that included agreements on tariffs, environmental protection, cultural exchanges and agriculture.
"These are partnerships that have formed the basis for Danish companies to reach agreements with Chinese companies into the two-figure billions," Thorning-Schmidt told reporters.
Hu has declined to speak to reporters throughout his stay in Denmark.
Danish authorities have said Hu's visit has generated some 18 billion kroner (2.4 billion euros, $3.1 billion) in agreements, though specific details on the deals were not immediately available.
Thorning-Schmidt said Hu had also raised the issue of China's bid for permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation among eight states, including Denmark, that border the mineral-rich region.
"I see no problem in that, provided that China fulfills the conditions," she said, without elaborating.
Thorning-Schmidt said talks with Hu and a 25-person delegation had been "good and constructive", and that she planned to visit China.
"I will be going to China this autumn. We have had very good talks and have been very happy with the entire visit," she said.
The talks also touched on the issue of human rights, Thorning-Schmidt said.
"There is no doubt that we in Denmark and the European Union are concerned about human rights in China. This is something we have discussed," she said.
She said she had pointed to Denmark's parliamentary decision to support a One China policy, "but we are urging China to discuss with the Tibetans in order to find solutions with them."
China froze relations with Denmark in 2009, after two successive prime ministers welcomed Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at the official government residence.
Those relations were mended in late 2010 when parliament made it clear that Denmark had a one-China policy and did not back independence for the Himalayan territory.
Discussions between the two delegations also touched on Europe's economic crisis as Hu prepared to travel later Saturday to a meeting of G20 nations that begins Sunday in Los Cabos, Mexico.
China has looked on with concern as the debt crisis deepens in Europe -- its largest export market -- and the impact it is having on the Chinese economy.
On Wednesday this week China called on leaders at the G20 summit to express their confidence in Europe, which is battling a severe sovereign debt crisis that threatens the global economy.
"All parties are convinced that the European side is capable of solving its own problems," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters.
"The summit should fully recognise this, and send the message of the G20's confidence in European economic and financial stability."
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