China: Aid to Europe is unconditional

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, September 21, 2011
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China pledged unconditional support to the European Union in its debt crisis but is "very disappointed" that the EU hasn't recognized the country as a market economy, the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.

"China has set no preconditions for offering help to others. We only hope that we can gain respect when treating others sincerely," Shen Danyang, spokesperson for the ministry, said during a news briefing.

He said China has done its best to help since the crisis broke out in Europe.

But he also said that China aiding Europe in its time of difficulty and the EU granting market economy status are two different issues and that there is no connection between them.

"China was very disappointed that the EU refused to grant the nation full market economy status despite its complete transition from a planned economy to a market economy after 30 years of reform and opening up," Shen said.

The comments rebutted speculation that China was setting explicit conditions for aiding Europe.

Premier Wen Jiabao last Wednesday urged European countries to "take a new move with strategic Sino-Euro relationships by admitting China's full market economy status."

China was ready to increase its investment in Europe, and at the same time Europe should recognized China's market economy status, Wen said.

The Italian government confirmed last week that it has held discussions in the past weeks with Chinese officials amid speculation Rome is seeking to persuade China to buy its bonds or invest in its private sector.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said last Thursday that the group has not made any promises to grant China improved trading status in return for China's support for the euro zone.

Market economy status is a designation in international trade law that would grant China more favorable terms in certain trade disputes such as anti-dumping probes.

The EU last Thursday slapped a protectionist duty of between 26.3 percent and 69.7 percent on Chinese ceramic tiles. In the same week, the EU initiated a review to decide whether it should extend the anti-dumping tariff on Chinese chamois leather.

Close to 150 members of the World Trade Organization, including New Zealand and Singapore, have recognized China's market economy status.

But major economies including the US, EU and Japan still deny China the status because its government still controls many industry sectors, analysts said.

"Giving China market economy status is a political decision, not a technical issue," Shen said.

"The worsening crisis within the European Union will create an internal pressure to intensify industrial competition and aggravate trade frictions between China and Europe," Shen said.

When China joined the WTO in 2001, it agreed to be treated as a non-market economy until 2016.

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