Thursday

2nd Feb 2023

Wen: China will continue to buy European debt

  • Close-up of Chinese banknote: EU officials and Germany are wary of Chinese prisoner releases (Photo: dolmansaxlil)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has promised greater co-operation between his country and troubled European nations, including the further purchase of public debt.

Currently on a whistle-stop tour of Hungary, Britain and Germany - the second such visit to Europe in nine months - the leader reached agreement with Hungarian authorities on additional lending to the country during his visit to Budapest on Saturday.

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Speaking to the BBC on the matter, he said Beijing would also continue to back debt purchases of other EU nations.

"Europe's debt crisis is expanding. Trust is more important than currency and gold. Now, during the debt crisis, we again bring trust to Europe," he said. EU parliament President Jerzy Buzek said in a written statement: "We should not forget about the many political activists and human rights defenders who are unjustly jailed in China - [Nobel laureate] Liu Xiaobo to start with."

During a speech at the China Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum, he called on eastern states to reduce trade barriers and establish customs co-operation and quality inspection.

He also said that on the Chinese side, he would work to ease market access for eastern European businesses.

Wen singled out telecommunications, energy and agriculture investment as areas where both sides could boost co-operation, as well as in infrastructure development.

Arriving in Britain on Sunday, he backed EU measures to contain its debt woes.

"Firm confidence is still needed when coping with the European sovereign debt crisis, mainly through Europe's own efforts," Wen said, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Wen is to meet UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday. The two sides are expected to sign business deals worth some £1 billion.

While the emphasis of Downing Street will be on economic issues, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has said that his government will not shy away from raising human rights concerns when Berlin holds a first-ever joint cabinet meeting with Chinese officials later this week.

Speaking to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, he said that he would continue to press the government on the issue of artist Ai Weiwei, released from jail on Wednesday.

"Despite the relief that Ai Weiwei is back with his family, the fact remains that his freedom is still marred by oppressive restrictions," Westerwelle told the weekly.

China on Sunday freed a second prominent dissident, Hu Jia. The move was met with a guarded response by EU officials.

A spokesman for EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton told the BBC it is "important to keep an eye on how [he] is treated".

China: 'You can't depend on us alone to rescue Greece'

A 'regular' phone call between EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Friday morning was aimed at reassuring markets that China will continue to support the ailing eurozone. But a Chinese diplomat noted that Beijing will only buy those bonds guaranteed to be paid back.

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