China Southern Airlines agreed to buy 21 Airbus aircraft, Chinese President Hu Jintao told a press conference during a state visit to France.
An Airbus spokesman confirmed that an agreement in principle had been reached.
Airbus, which trailed US rival Boeing in starting to do business in China, currently has a market share of about 30%, with 217 Airbus planes in service in China.
The company is hoping to sell more than 800 aircraft in China over the next 20 years.
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