NICE (France) - CHINA'S President Hu Jintao wrapped up a lavish state visit to France on Saturday after throwing his weight behind its upcoming G-20 presidency and plans for global financial reform.

Mr Hu took off from the southern resort of Nice, bound for Lisbon according to the French presidency, which claimed a diplomatic success in winning China's backing for when it heads the Group of 20 economic powers from Nov 13.

Officials gave no details of Mr Hu's schedule in Lisbon but analysts said that trip was likely part of China's drive to buy up cheap government debt in countries like Portugal which have been hit hard by the financial crisis. There were small-scale protests by human rights activists in France, but officials regarded the meetings as a success, having also secured more than 20 billion US dollars (S$25.7 billion) in contracts for French firms.

One of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's advisers said Mr Hu and Mr Sarkozy reached a 'true convergence of views' in their talks on France's G-20 plans. Analysts do not expect China to give much ground on calls for it to allow its currency to appreciate in order to rebalance global trade flows, but Mr Hu's endorsement was considered vital to Mr Sarkozy's plans.

Mr Sarkozy told journalists that he and Mr Hu had discussed the 'really necessary reforms of the international monetary system and regulation of commodities prices to try to have a world that is more balanced, more stable.' Mr Sarkozy said he also broached the sensitive topic of human rights, after complaints by activists that he was avoiding the subject because of the high economic and diplomatic stakes of the visit.

Speaking as he arrived at a chic restaurant near the Nice seafront for the dinner on Friday, Mr Sarkozy said the two discussed 'all subjects... without taboos.' Pressed on whether he had brought up the question of human rights, Mr Sarkozy replied: 'Certainly. President Hu Jintao is someone you can talk with.'

Hu seals ties ahead of G-20