Foreign and Military Affairs

Premier's European tour to build trust

By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-24 08:08
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BRUSSELS - Premier Wen Jiabao's European tour will play an important role in building trust in the continent toward China, said a European lawmaker.

Csaba Tabajdi, a member of the European Parliament for the Hungarian Socialist Party, said Wen's visit will strengthen relations between China and Europe.

"This way Europeans will gain confidence and trust toward China," Tabajdi told China Daily.

Last year, China became the world's second-biggest economy after overtaking Japan. Apart from boosting trade, the Chinese government is determined to expand overseas investment and European countries are high on its list of investment destinations.

Meanwhile, China has been buying treasury bonds issued by Greece, Spain and Portugal to help these countries emerge from the debt crisis.

But some European policymakers are worried about the impact of these purchases, said Tabajdi.

"These fears are overrated, since EU-China relations are satisfactory in general. They are based on simultaneous competition and cooperation," said Tabajdi.

The EU is China's main trading partner, while China is the EU's second-largest trading partner. This cooperation is beneficial for both sides, though there are some disagreements over trade relations.

Although Chinese investors have appeared in European markets, the level of Chinese financial investment in European sovereign debt is far below that of the United States.

"Some politicians are afraid of Chinese investments. I am not," said Tabajdi.

"I don't think the fears are necessary and my argument is the example of China's investment in US Treasury bonds," Tabajdi said.

Tabajdi said nearly a quarter of US Treasury bonds were financed by the Chinese government.

"Twenty-five percent means a lot, and it is a lot of money But it doesn't mean any special Chinese influence on US economic policy or public life not at all."

Tabajdi added that building trust is a two-way job, and Europeans also have a lot of work to do.

First, he said, Europeans must improve their knowledge of China. Researchers in different member states should be brought into a network and study China from economic, social and political perspectives.

However, this should be based on the precondition of mutual respect, said Tabajdi.

"We have our way of understanding democracy and human rights, but for China, with 700 million rural residents and 200 million migrants, social rights should be put into a different context," said Tabajdi.

"We should respect China's way of constructing its own society. We don't have to teach China and the Chinese people how to achieve it," said Tabajdi.

Wen will arrive in Hungary on Friday, the first leg of a three-nation European tour that will also include the United Kingdom and Germany.