Wen Jiabao

Beijing strengthens pledge to aid EU

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am


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China is ready to play a bigger role in resolving the European sovereign debt crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday.

Speaking to the press with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso after the 14th China-EU leaders' meeting in Beijing, Wen said China's support in helping Europe tackle its debt crisis was 'sincere and determined'.

'China is ready to get more deeply involved in participating in solving the European debt issue,' Wen said.

Early this month, Wen told German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel in Beijing that China was 'considering greater involvement' in efforts to address the debt crisis. Wen said yesterday that China was still expecting the EU to strengthen its internal financial discipline and to send clearer and more 'positive messages' to the outside world, in hopes of bringing China-EU financial co-operation to a deeper level.

Wen made the remarks just one day after Moody's downgraded its credit ratings on Italy, Portugal and Spain. The rating agency also lowered its outlooks for France, Britain and Austria from 'stable' to 'negative'.

The premier also said: 'We need to work together to send a positive, beneficial message to make necessary contributions towards pushing China-EU, and even global, unity and co-operation.'

Van Rompuy said the Chinese and EU economies were 'so interdependent that change in the growth rate in one of the two strategic partners has a direct and palpable impact on the other one'.

Chinese and EU leaders vowed in a joint statement yesterday to prioritise a swift and comprehensive resolution of China's quest to be recognised as a full market economy.

Beijing has been lobbying its trade partners to confer it such status, as the number of anti-dumping cases filed against Chinese manufacturers at the World Trade Organisation continues to rise. A change in status would reduce that.

Both sides decided to soon hold the first meeting of a China-EU group focused on high-tech trade.

Liu Youfa, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said China would have a hard time deciding what action to take on the debt crisis until EU members took the lead by showing 'its will, its capability and its agenda' in support and rescue efforts.

'But, of course,' Liu added, 'I agree with what Premier Wen said - that to help Europe is to help China itself.'

He said: 'China can always help by expanding trade and enlarging procurement, so that the European economy may enter a boom cycle more quickly.'

There was no shortage of workable solutions to the euro-zone debt problem, Liu said. But unless real consensus, or sufficient unity, was shown by the EU member countries, the crisis 'may get still worse and cause unexpected things to happen', he said.

Ding Chun, director of Fudan University's Centre for European Studies, said 'a major breakthrough' on China's involvement in the euro-zone debt rescue effort still appeared far off.

In the run-up to the China-EU summit, Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corp, China's US$410 billion sovereign wealth fund, said any fresh injection of funds into Europe would be in industrial-related and other 'hard' assets, not government bonds.