News / Asia

China, EU Talk Debt Crisis, Airline Carbon Tax, Syria

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, right, shakes hand with EU President Herman Van Rompuy beside European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing , Feb. 14, 2012.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, right, shakes hand with EU President Herman Van Rompuy beside European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing , Feb. 14, 2012.

Europe's top officials are in Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders that are expected to cover the eurozone debt crisis, Syria and an airline carbon tax imposed by the European Union that China opposes.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao message was clear Tuesday, saying China and the European Union need to work together to solve Europe's debt crisis.

China and the EU are strategic partners, said Wen. He added that, in the face of difficulties and challenges, the two sides should have mutual understanding and work together toward common goals.

He made his comments in a meeting Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy, who stressed that the two sides need each other.

“We became 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," Rompuy said. "Our economic destinies are interlinked.”

China is the world's largest holder of foreign reserves. Beijing has repeatedly said it hopes to help Europe resolve its debt crisis, but has made no specific pledges of action.

China has an interest in helping Europe maintain economic strength because of huge trade volume, said Peking University International Studies Professor Wang Dong. One possibility, he said, for China to help is to go through the International Monetary Fund, rather than helping bail out countries directly.

“My guess is that China will try to seek to enhance its cooperation with the IMF," Wang said. "I know that the IMF is trying to set up some kind of mechanism in providing the funds to the euro, but that is a big challenge because there is not sufficient amount of money available.”

The European leaders are in Beijing on the same day Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.

Wang said China wants to have good relations with both Europe and the United States, and believes in a multipolar world. But at the same time, he says China is not trying to, as he put it, drive a wedge between the U.S. and the EU.

In honor of Valentines Day, a holiday that celebrates lovers, Wang made the analogy to China and the United States as a married couple that is committed to staying together.

“We have some quarrels, disagreements and unhappiness about each other [about] some sort of actions," he said."But, after a while, we still have to come back and say okay. We have to deal with that and, if it's a couple, we have to live together. That is in essence today's globalized world.”

The EU leaders are in Beijing for the annual China-EU summit, which was originally scheduled for October, but had to be postponed because of the euro debt crisis. In addition to the euro woes, the two sides also are expected to discuss Syria, Iran and EU plans to introduce a carbon tax on airlines.
China recently joined Russia in vetoing a United Nations resolution on Syria.

Meanwhile, China says it will not allow its airlines to pay the EU-imposed fees, which are aimed at curbing carbon emissions that many scientists blame for global warming.

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