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EU Bailout Chief: No Immediate Deal in China

Klaus Regling, chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility, arrives for a press conference in Beijing, China, October 28, 2011.
Klaus Regling, chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility, arrives for a press conference in Beijing, China, October 28, 2011.

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Stephanie Ho

The head of Europe's bailout fund says he expects China to continue buying European bonds. But he had no immediate deal to announce during his visit Friday to Beijing.

Klaus Regling, the chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), says China already is an important investor in the fund.

"The foreign exchange reserves of China go up every month, therefore there is need for investment," said Regling.  "That's also my experience, talking to the Chinese authorities, that they are interested in finding attractive, solid, safe investment opportunities. And I am happy that EFSF bonds have been considered to be in that category in the past, and therefore, I am optimistic that we will have also a longer-term relationship because we will continue to provide safe, attractive investment opportunities."

Regling was in Beijing one day after Eurozone countries reached a deal to cope with the EU debt crisis.

China's vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao described his meeting with the European official as an opportunity for both sides to exchange views, although he said Beijing has concerns with the so-called "special purpose vehicle" that will be set up to aid the European bailout.

Zhu asked how much the European Financial Stability Facility contribute to this "vehicle," and what the composition of its debt portfolio will be.  He also questioned whether investment in the new vehicle would be guaranteed by the stability fund.

Zhu says China wants to wait for the technicalities to be clear before it decides on whether to invest.

Frank Yu is assistant finance professor at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai. He says China sees any contributions it makes to the European bailout as business investments, not donations.

"China can wait a little bit, and wait for the more favorable terms to show up," said Yu.  "And then maybe they will pick some investment to do, but they are not obligated to do all of them and are very likely, even when they do, they want guarantees from big organizations, like the European central banks."

Yu says China is not accountable to the people of Europe, and in the end, will do what is best for its own people.

Chinese vice finance minister Zhu said he expects the European stability fund to continue canvassing a wide range of potential investor opinion before it is expected to announce more details at a meeting early next month.

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