China's Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday his country was ready to increase its participation in efforts to resolve Europe's debt crisis, after holding talks with EU leaders in Beijing.
Wen also said China wanted to see Europe -- its biggest trading partner -- "maintain stability and prosperity", a day after ratings agency Moody's downgraded Italy, Spain and Portugal.
"China is ready to increase its participation in resolving the EU debt problems," the Chinese premier told journalists after meeting EU president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
Wen did not elaborate on how China would participate, but earlier this month he said Beijing was considering offering help through the International Monetary Fund or bail-out funds.
China has made clear its growing concerns over the crisis in Europe, repeatedly urging EU leaders to get a grip on the situation, which the foreign ministry said this week had reached a "critical juncture".
European leaders last year approached China, which holds the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, to invest in a bail-out fund to rescue debt-stricken states, but it has made no firm commitment so far.
"Helping stability in the European market is actually helping ourselves... We have to keep import and export policies stable," the Chinese premier said after talks with the visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month.
Chinese media had speculated Beijing would make its position clearer at the summit, which began on Tuesday and was expected to be dominated by the crisis in Europe.
"The times we are living in are challenging and it is of utmost importance the European Union and China advance our common agenda and address global problems," Van Rompuy told Wen during the summit.
"We became so interdependent that change in the growth rate in one of the two strategic partners has a direct and palpable impact on the other one. Our economic destinies are interlinked."
The IMF warned last week that an escalation of the EU debt crisis could slash China's economic growth in half this year.
On Monday, Moody's cast doubt over whether Europe's leaders were doing enough to reverse the downslide when it chopped the debt ratings of Italy, Spain and Portugal.
It also put France, Britain and Austria on warning, saying they were increasingly vulnerable to the eurozone crisis.
Barroso and Van Rompuy will also hold talks with China's President Hu Jintao as part of the summit, which was originally due to take place in October, but had to be postponed due to the debt crisis.
After the talks with Wen, Van Rompuy called for improved market access for European companies in China and better protection of intellectual property rights.
"China will continue to fully meet its World Trade Organization commitments," Wen responded. "It will continue to expand market access."
Foreign firms frequently complain that China favours domestic companies and squeezes them out of some markets, including lucrative government procurement contracts.
EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht, who said last month he is drafting a law in response to Chinese protectionism in public markets, is taking part in the summit.
De Gucht has been a fierce critic of China's restrictions on rare earths exports, 17 elements crucial in the manufacturing of many high-tech products such iPods and flat-screen televisions.
The crisis in Syria was also expected to be raised at the summit, after China and Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the regime's bloody crackdown on protests, as were concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions.