BEIJING (Reuters) - China has no intention of “buying up” or “controlling” a debt-ridden Europe that it still has confidence in, and any help Beijing may offer will be for purely economic reasons, a top state-run newspaper said on Monday ahead of a China-EU summit.
While Chinese leaders have repeatedly expressed confidence in European nations, they have also refrained from making firm financial commitments, urging Europe first to take further steps on its own.
Premier Wen Jiabao, meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Beijing earlier this month, said China was considering increasing its participation in the rescue funds aimed at resolving the debt crisis, though he gave no explicit pledges.
In a suggestion of the tone China wishes to strike at its summit with senior EU officials on Tuesday, Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily said in a front page commentary that China’s interests lay in selflessly helping Europe.
“China has no appetite or ability to ‘buy up Europe’ or ‘control Europe’ as some European commentators have said,” wrote Feng Zhongping, director of the Institute of European Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
“China has from the beginning strongly supported the EU and the euro, in clear contrast to the ‘talking down’ of Europe in the international community,” Feng wrote in the piece, carried in the paper’s overseas edition.
China has promised not to link helping Europe in the debt crisis with issues such as the EU recognizing China as a market economy or the EU’s arms embargo on China, Feng added.
“This is the best example of China’s proactive stance on the EU,” he wrote.
Any Chinese economic assistance to resolve the debt problem, whether via the International Monetary Fund or the EU’s own systems, would be a purely economic decision, Feng said.
“There is thus no such thing as ‘the poor person saving the rich person’,” he added.
The Beijing summit, which was postponed from December, will bring together Premier Wen and President Hu Jintao with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
The European Stability Mechanism, a 500-billion-euro ($665 billion) permanent bailout fund due to become operational in July, is expected to replace the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), a temporary fund that has been used to bail out Ireland and Portugal and will help in the second Greek package.
The euro zone must agree and approve a 130-billion-euro ($170 billion) bailout package with Greece before February 15 to allow time for complex legal procedures involved in the bond swap to be completed in time for a March 20 bond redemption.
Failure to strike a deal risks pushing Athens into a chaotic debt default that could threaten its future in the euro zone and worsen the crisis.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Richard Pullin