Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday praised Europe for being “on the right track” in tackling the euro crisis and pledged continued assistance to help overcome sovereign debt fallout.
Speaking at a business “summit” alongside the Brussels leadership, Wen said China in past months had continued investing in European government bonds and discussed cooperation with the eurozone’s new rescue fund, the 500-billlion-euro European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
As the new firewall prepares to become operational next month, Wen said: “China will continue to play its part in helping resolve the European debt issue through appropriate channels.”
“Europe is on the right track in tackling its debt issue,” he told the couple of hundred business leaders attending. “What is crucial now is to fully implement the reforms” on economic governance.After starting a one-day EU-China summit on a sour note by demanding an end to a more than 20-year arms embargo and the lifting of all tariffs on Chinese goods, Wen hailed China-EU ties as “one of the most important partnerships in the world.”
“I hold the development of this relationship close to my heart,” he said after signing a 49-point four-page agreement with the EU ranging from foreign policy issues to mutual agreements to increase research and development, and create tens of thousands of student scholarships.
In a world challenged by a slowdown in growth, China and the 27-state bloc, already the world’s second biggest economic market with a billion euros in two-way trade per day, needed to “focus on deepening our dialogue,” said EU president Herman Van Rompuy.
Saying Europe was committed to its currency, Van Rompuy called notably for improved trade with China.
“We can and have to do more in opening our markets and guaranteeing a level playing-field for everyone,” he said.
The Chinese premier in opening remarks had said there were no major conflicts of interest between the two but went on to raise the issue of an EU arms embargo imposed since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, and the EU’s refusal to treat China as a fully-fledged market economy and so ease tariffs.
“I have to be very frank in saying this ... but the solution has been elusive over the past 10 years. I deeply regret this and I hope the EU side will take greater initiative to solve these issues,” Wen added.
China will not get full market status until 2016 after accepting a 15-year transition period when it joined the World Trade Organization.
There was a discordant note too on Wednesday when the EU scrapped efforts to organise a press conference at the close of the summit, as is traditional at such events, after failing to agree terms with Chinese authorities.
Officials also cut off a live broadcast of Wen’s opening remarks moments before he finished addressing the summit audience.
With Wen attending his last EU summit, Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso paid tributes to his role in fostering burgeoning ties over the past 10 years.
“Your role has been essential in bringing us to where we are today,” Van Rompuy said.
Home to half a billion people, the EU is China’s single largest export market while China is the EU’s second largest trading partner after the United States, with total trade worth nearly 430 billion euros ($560 billion) in 2011.
With a new leadership to be named in Beijing within months, recession and mounting protectionist trade disputes formed the backdrop to the summit, alongside diplomatic differences over Syria.
In office since 2003, Wen is to step down within months as the Chinese Communist Party and government passes the baton to a new generation of leaders.
Disputes — including the biggest yet of its kind, an EU anti-dumping probe into the multi-billion-euro market for solar panels dominated by Chinese exporters — should be kept in proportion, EU sources said.
From :Gulf news.