September 28, 2010 / 9:59 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-China backs debt-strained EU before Wen visit

(Writes thru with additional quotes and details)

BEIJING, Sept 28 (Reuters) - China gave its backing on Tuesday to efforts by European Union countries to tackle their debt problems, ahead of a visit to Greece and other member states by Premier Wen Jiabao that will focus on the economy.

Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said Wen’s visit to Greece next week would also include unveiling agreements on shipping and ship financing.

“While in Greece, a focus of discussions could be how to respond to the current (financial) crisis,” Fu told a news conferences about Wen’s trip from October 2 to 9.

The debt strains facing a number of EU states also would be on the agenda when Premier Wen visits Belgium and Italy, as well and also meets senior EU finance officials in Brussels, said Fu.

Wen will also visit Turkey.

“We have a positive attitude towards the actions taken by the European Union and IMF, and we have noted the many measures adopted by the Greek government and the results they are producing,” she said.

“We will encourage even more Chinese businesses to invest in Greece if that is suitable, and also encourage more tourists to go there,” she added.

China has already extended a helping hand to Greece by agreeing to make substantial investments there. It was also a big buyer recently of Spanish government bonds.

“In the face of the European debt crisis, China has supported vigorous measures by Europe to deal with the crisis, and this policy is unwavering,” said Fu, the Chinese diplomat in charge of dealings with Europe.

“It’s crucially important for China that Europe maintains overall economic stability and overcomes the crisis and restores growth.”

Not all of China’s officials have appeared so unnerved about Europe’s prospects. The sovereign debt strains weighing down the eurozone could deepen, with Greece and Spain particularly at risk, a senior Chinese central banker said earlier this month. [ID:nTOE688068]

Wen’s visit to Europe is also likely to include pressure on China over its currency exchange policies.

Top EU officials are expected to ask him to deliver on Beijing’s promise to make its exchange rate more flexible, European officials have said. [ID:nLDE68G1SC] (Reporting by Chris Buckley; Writing by Alan Wheatley; Editing by Ken Wills)

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