BEIJING–German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to China this chilly winter reinforces convictions that China and the European Union (EU) have the will and ways to pull through the economic frigidity with more unity.
The talks between Merkel and top Chinese leaders show the world's two growth engines are hand in hand at the forefront of the battle against the recession, and inject a dose of reassurance to touchy global financial instability.
Chin, considering its relationship with the EU, has never been muted on its role in aiding the economy out of its debt mire. It is considering more involvement in the rescue through major international financing bodies, as Premier Wen Jiabao told Merkel Thursday. Given the complexities, China has to make thorough investigations before announcing concrete moves. Prudent actions foster accountable effects, otherwise the rescue money, which comes from the national foreign reserves, would not find its rightful place. Worse, it would arouse domestic pubic complaints.
Cash funding is only one side of the story. To walk out of the crisis, fiscal austerity is essential, while measures to boost growth are also needed. On this front, China and the EU enjoy a wider scope for cooperation.
Two cases made the point recently. A Chinese sovereign-wealth fund just acquired stakes in Thames Water, the largest British water supply and treatment company. Portugal said it would sell stakes in its national electricity grid to a Chinese state-owned firm. It is China's first batch of national investment in European infrastructures, and certainly will not be the last. News also flows from the private sector. A Chinese construction equipment giant Sany Heavy Industry said this week it was to take over Putzmeister, a leading German machine manufacturer. Merkel told Wen that Germany welcomes China's investment. Along with other EU members, Germany will not politicize economic issues and will stand against protectionism.
The Chancellor's tone, however, is still insufficient to calm a growing displeasure in China that Europe is also prone to protectionism, as the EU has displayed a strong tendency to target China's export policies on either solar panels or rare earth.
While it complains about China's restrictive rare earth policy which is primarily aimed at saving global exhaustible resources and protecting environment, the EU obstinately restricts its exports of hi-tech products and bans arms sales to China, which somewhat reminds people of a Cold War nostalgia.
China has shown its companionship and, more importantly, sincerity in a time of crisis. It is time for the EU and China to broaden collective visions and benefit from the strategic mutual trust that is building.—Xinhua