The biannual China International Air Show, held in the southern city of Zhuhai, saw the announcement of a string of new deals as vendors from more than 30 countries fought it out for a slice of the world's fastest growing aviation market.
In the first four days alone, contracts worth more than US$4.5bn were inked.
Archrivals Boeing and Airbus both made use of the show to plug their next generation aircraft – the Boeing 7E7 "Dreamliner? and the Airbus A380 "Superjumbo." Neither of these aircraft has yet flown, nor have they secured the much-sought-after first Chinese customer.
The core of their argument is whether China needs medium-size aircraft flying point-to-point services (the case for the Dreamliner) or whether the market is looking for big carriers flying trunk routes between hub airports (the case for the Superjumbo).
Beyond that particular battle, Airbus was looking even further into the future, laying the groundwork for greater Chinese involvement in its future aircraft development projects.
Part of that plan involved the announcement of a new Chinese R&D center, staffed by around 200-plus engineers, due to open in 2005.
Announcing the investment, Laurence Barron, Airbus China president, said he saw the move as a preparatory step for China to become "a full risk-sharing partner" having at least a 10% share in a future, unspecified, Airbus project.
The R&D center is a logical next step from the tactic used by both Airbus and Boeing to curry favor in the Chinese market by outsourcing a growing quantity of their componentry, supplies and engineering to Chinese companies.
Last year Airbus overtook rival Boeing in global plane deliveries and has a stated goal of securing more than 50% of China's market for civil aircraft.
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