With the largest foreign exchange reserve in the world, China's Premier Wen Jiabao promised Sunday that his country would continue to support the European economy and increase bilateral trade relations.
AFP - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged on Sunday to support a stable euro and ease trade ties with Europe as he moved to smooth over past tensions ahead of a key summit in Brussels.
"I am convinced that a strong Europe is irreplaceable....China wants to promote and strengthen strategic links with the European Union," Wen said in an address to the parliament in Athens ahead of the Asia-Europe and EU-China summits.
He said China would "support the stability of the euro" and Beijing would "not reduce the amount of European bonds that are part of the Chinese foreign exchange reserves."
"We have stayed at Europe's side to overcome the crisis and to allow the recovery," he added.
With China's foreign exchange reserves the biggest in the world, Wen's pledge was a welcome show of support after Europe battled to beat back a dramatic debt crisis in Greece that nearly destroyed the euro earlier this year.
China has become European Union's biggest trade partner in recent years, but ties have been fraught over concerns in Europe about difficulties breaking into Chinese markets and Beijing's policy of holding down the yuan's value to boost exports.
China was working to improve its investment environment, protect intellectual property and develop co-operation in the field of technology, Wen said during an hour-long speech broadcast live on the parliament's TV channel.
"I hope that Europe will recognise and try to limit protectionism to create a favourable climate to develop reciprical trade," Wen said.
"There is no conflict of interest between the EU and China but a complementarity between both sides, China is working to continue opening up" towards Europe, said Wen, who addressed the parliament in Chinese.
Wen said European exports to China were up 42 percent in the first half of 2010, and would reach 500 billion dollars by the end of the year.
Before his speech, Wen visited the ancient citadel of the Acropolis, the Greek capital's top tourist site, and he called in his speech for direct flights between Greece and China to promote two-way tourism.
Wen arrived in Greece on Saturday for the start of a week-long European tour that will take him to Brussels on Monday before visits to Turkey and Italy.
The eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of nations that represent 60 percent of the world population and global trade is threatening to be overshadowed by a diplomatic row between China and Japan.
All eyes will be on whether Wen and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan will meet face-to-face to ease tensions over a maritime incident near a disputed island chain.
Asia's two largest economies have been embroiled in a tense diplomatic standoff since Japan's arrest on September 8 of a Chinese trawler captain near the East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The two-day summit will be followed by separate EU talks on Wednesday with China and South Korea that could reveal tensions over China's human rights record and the yuan currency.
Beijing is eager to deflect criticism for deliberately keeping the yuan artificially low to make exports more competitive with Washington recently ratchetting up pressure on China over the policy.
On Saturday, China pledged to back Greece, which nearly defaulted this year when investors snubbed its debt, by buying its bonds in future debt issues.
Crippled by debts of nearly 300 billion euros, the country became in May the first eurozone member to need a financial bailout with a 110-billion-euro EU and IMF rescue package.
Wen also signed a flurry of agreements on investment and tourism with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, and announced the creation of a five-billion-dollar (3.6-billion-euro) fund to help finance the purchase of Chinese ships by Greek shipping companies.
Date created : 2010-10-03