China-EU Relations

Focus

Chinese fund manager lambasts EU 'sloth, indolence'

07.11.11 @ 16:17

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

BRUSSELS - Using language recalling German tabloid depictions of "lazy Greeks", the chairman of China's sovereign wealth fund has said the EU as a whole suffers from "sloth" and "indolence."

  • Chinese coal mine. Jin's picture of 'hard working' Chinese and lazy Europeans stands next to NGO reports of 'sweatshop' conditions in major Chinese factories (Photo: AdamCohn)

Jin Liquin made the comments during a TV interview with Al Jazeera on Sunday (6 November).

"If you look at the troubles which have happened in European countries, this is purely because of the troubles of a worn-out welfare society. I think [the EU's] welfare laws are outdated. The labour laws induce sloth, indolence. The incentive system is totally out of sink," he said.

He referred to "some countries [which] happily retire at 55 to languish on the beach."

Jin contrasted the EU work ethic to the situation in China: "We in China are working very hard. The Chinese people are working very hard to build up our nation, to move forward. So if you say: 'European countries are in trouble why don't you pour you resources into these countries in trouble.' Our people would ask: 'Hey. Are you sure we can get a fair return on our investment?'"

Jin's remarks come after EU countries recently invited the Chinese Investment Corporartion (CIC) to put some of its €440 billion into the union's new bail-out fund, the EFSF.

But the CIC chairman said he will invest only if the EU puts forward a "credible reform programme."

He added he has no sympathy for EU political problems, such as getting all the parliaments of the 17 eurozone countries to agree to changes: "Having 17 parliaments and governments will not give eurozone members any excuses for not taking action."

Jin's praise of hard working Chinese people stands next to NGO reports of "sweatshop" conditions in some of its biggest factories.

Workers at Foxconn plants in Shenzhen and Chengdu, which make iPads and which saw 14 suicides in the past year, say they sleep 24-to-a-room, get one day off in 14 and earn 75 euro cents an hour. Workers at the Ford factory in Chengdu work 30 days a month in peak time and earn 80 cents.

Jin noted that after 30 years of rapid economic growth, China is entering "a new phase."

With the EU, in his view, too far to the left on labour issues, he said China is trying to rebalance its domestic situation by taxing the rich, dropping income tax for poor farm workers, investing in education for the poor and building new infrastructure in outlying regions.