On Thursday, France Telecom and China Telecommunications Corp. announced the signing of a "long-term" partnership and the opening of a joint research and development center in China.

In a statement, the French group said it had concluded a "strategic partnership to launch a long-term collaboration in several areas of activity" with China Telecom, China's biggest fixed line operator. The deal will have a "strong impact on the long-term development of the two operators."

Xinhua News Agency, reported that the two companies had each agreed to invest euro20 million (US$24 million) in the first joint research center in Beijing. Last week, France Telecom chairman and chief executive Thierry Breton said the company plans to open two Chinese research centers with China Telecom this year, employing 500 French and Chinese engineers.

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