Chinese concerns over eurozone persist: French Finance Minister

Tue Jan 8, 2013 8:47am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese officials remain worried about the state of the euro, the visiting French finance minister said on Tuesday, while repeating assurances the euro zone has stabilized and that France is on track for recovery.

Pierre Moscovici, in Beijing for a one-day visit, said concerns over the future of the euro came up in all his meetings, even as the French side sought to attract Chinese investment, further nuclear cooperation and promote Paris as a place to do business in Chinese yuan.

"There was one point that came up in all our discussions, which I had to hammer away at because I am convinced. I sensed a strong question still remains here, perhaps due to a misunderstanding or a lack of information," he told reporters.

The questions on the state of the euro came from China's future premier, Li Keqiang, as well as from Lou Jiwei, the head of sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp (CIC), Moscovici said.

"China has helped sustain the euro since the beginning, and it took a position in the euro during a difficult time. At the time there was both support and concern," he added.

"The support remains. The concern is only partially dissipated, but not totally."

CIC officials have said as recently as last month that they were not optimistic about the outlook for the debt crisis in the euro zone. China has picked up infrastructure assets in Europe but has been more cautious about bond purchases especially from the more troubled euro zone members.

For their part, the French are eager to include Paris in China's gradual internationalization of the yuan for the convenience of companies doing business in China, although they have yet to negotiate concrete steps with Chinese authorities.

Paris already claims 10 billion yuan in bank deposits, second only to London among European countries, and up to 10 percent of Sino-French commerce is conducted in yuan, said delegation member Arnaud de Bresson, chief executive of financial services industry group Paris Europlace.   Continued...

France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici delivers a speech in Renmin University during his visit in Beijing, January 8, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily