Representatives from Airbus and China's Central Aircraft Sales Corporation signed the deal in the presence of the Chinese premier and his French counterpart.
Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal is worth close to nine and a-half billion dollars at list prices. However, Airbus and U-S rival Boeing typically give significant discounts, especially for large orders.
The Airbus order upstages China's purchase last month of 70 Boeing jets during a visit to Beijing by President Bush. That deal was valued at about $4 billion list.
Until now, Boeing has won about 60 percent of new plane orders from China, with Airbus taking about one-third.
With a high-level French diplomatic offensive, the European plane maker has been pushing to beef up its presence in China.