China's vice Prime Minister Li Keqiang flew in to Brussels onTuesday for a visit aimed at tightening the bond between the two trade giantswith a slew of energy deals and economic pacts.
BRUSSELS - China's vice Prime Minister Li Keqiang flew in to Brussels on
Tuesday for a visit aimed at tightening the bond between the two trade giants
with a slew of energy deals and economic pacts.
Kicking off three days in the European capital with a bilateral visit to Belgium, Li
is to sign a farm and an investment fund deal on Wednesday with the country's
new Socialist premier Elio Di Rupo and meet King Albert II.
"We try to be the gateway to Europe for Chinese investors," said Belgian Foreign
Minister Didier Reynders after welcoming China's likely new premier, flying in
from Hungary after a visit to Russia.
The Chinese leader, according to Reynders, reiterated Beijing's vow to stick to
modernisation, openness and respect of human rights when he takes over as
expected from Premier Wen Jiabao.
In Brussels on Wednesday he clinches a deal with the Belgian government to
set up an investment fund financed by both countries to help Chinese investors
tickled with investment potential in Belgium.
"It's a good possibility for more and more investors from China to come to
Belgium and come to Europe," said Reynders.
Turning to the European Union on Thursday, Li will sign off on three joint
statements - on energy security, electricity market reform, and a hands-on
"sustainable urbanisation" scheme reflecting "the widening of the agenda" in EU-
China relations, as one EU diplomat put it.
Agreed at a February EU-China summit, it aims to bring the two sides together to
build energy-efficient green cities as China addresses a historically
unprecedented challenge of morphing from rural nation to land of mega-cities.
"Our partnership has deepened in both breadth and depth," the EU said. "We
expect these initiatives to bring forward our common agenda."
Highlighting the power focus, energy ministers from the 27-nation bloc will
gather in Brussels to meet members of China's National Energy Commission to
discuss electricity markets.
And the Belgian leg includes a tour of Umicore, a metals technology giant with a
14.5-billion-euro turnover that refines and recycles precious metals.
But there will be no press conference during Li's three-day visit, sources from
both sides said.
On the trade and economy front, Barroso is expected to raise Europe's hopes of
support from China to maintain the stability of the euro and the European
Premier Wen, expected to be replaced by Li when he steps down next year,
called Barroso last week on the heels of a tour of four European countries to
reassure the EU of Beijing's economic backing.
"Prime Minister Wen reiterated the Chinese support for the actions taken inn
Europe to overcome the current problems," said Barroso's spokeswoman Pia
Barroso recalled "the positive impact for the global economy" of the agreement
by eurozone countries to stump up $200 billion of a $430-billion crisis coffer put
together by the International Monetary Fund.
But though the EU is China's largest trading partner - trade between the two is
worth more than one billion euros per day - a host of problems remain to be
resolved, from a row on rare earths and EU carbon emissions to complaints from
European firms of lack of access to China's markets. -- afp