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EU's great kowtow to China

Thursday, February 02, 2012 - 02:09

Germany's Angela Merkel visits China with hands out for Europe, but don't expect Beijing to fall over itself with offers to save the EU from its debt disaster.

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PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Another time, a very different world. A century ago, China was broke and it was European banks helping to fund the new republic. Fast forward to the present, how things have changed. China is the world banker and now Europe needs a cut. European leaders have brought their begging bowls to China. Nicolas Sarkozy, Klaus Regling, and Christine Lagarde. But they've all come back empty-handed. Now, Europe's most prominent leader Angela Merkel is in Beijing. And she means business. She'll be doing her best to connect personally with China's leaders and get the support she needs to save Europe from its debt disaster. What Europe really wants is for China to buy more euro bonds to boost its bailout fund. China has been reluctant to increase its stake in Europe. But things might be about to change. China's growth is lagging as European exports dither. The continent is China's biggest trading partner. For this reason China is likely to buy more bonds, especially if Merkel can guarantee China a good return, says Andrew Economos. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JPMORGAN ASSET MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF SOVEREIGN & INSTITUTIONAL STRATEGY, ANDREW ECONOMOS, SAYING: "If the Chinese get this agreement, I think you'll see a little bit more activity in terms of the Chinese and the sovereign wealth funds in particular, buying some of the European paper that has been lagging and festering really in the bank vaults of the ECB." But while China is likely to lend a helping hand, it shouldn't be too much, say local Beijingers. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 25-YEAR-OLD SALESPERSON, CHEN PENG, SAYING: "China has no obligation to help." (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 26-YEAR OLD FINANCIAL WORKER XU LUO, SAYING: "China cannot afford to spend a lot to help the EU because it has its own domestic problems." These views are echoed by the administration, and probably won't change, says Enzio von Pfeil. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO, COMMERCIAL ECONOMICS ASIA, ENZIO VON PFEIL, SAYING: "I think that China's view will be yet again and understandably that this is Europe's problem which Europe has to solve, and not the IMF and not China." Despite Merkel's best appeals for help, China is unlikely to step up this time. Tessa Dunlop, for Reuters.

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EU's great kowtow to China

Thursday, February 02, 2012 - 02:09