With President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping looking on, Boeing and China Aviation Supplies Holding Co. today signed an agreement for the purchase of 300 airplanes valued at more than $37 billion.
The agreement provided a public relations boost to all sides: Trump and Boeing could herald a win for U.S. exports, while Xi could soften China’s image in the minds of the American public and policymakers.
“China is a valued customer and key partner, and we’re proud that Boeing airplanes will be a part of its fleet growth for years to come,” Kevin McAllister, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement. “Boeing and China have a strong history of working together based on great mutual respect, and these orders build on that foundation.”
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) November 9, 2017
But Boeing didn’t say how many of the 260 single-aisle and 40 twin-aisle airplanes were the subject of previous agreements, repackaged for public consumption. Bloomberg News quoted unnamed sources as saying that most of the planes were in fact parts of deals going back to 2013.
That’s standard practice for the kinds of announcements highlighted during visits by heads of state, particularly in China. “Beijing is a master of selling the same agreement 10 times,” Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China, said in a tweet before today’s announcement.
China Aviation Supplies will handle receipt of the planes from Boeing over the next several years, and distribute them to state-supported airlines according to their needs.
Boeing’s share price trended lower in early trading today.