G20: Economy Rescue Trumps Panda Loan
At the G20 summit in Cannes last week, many a hopeful eye was cast towards China. In the midst of a serious economic crisis and after the US firmly stated that IMF funds are off limits, European finance ministers and leaders hoped that China would commit to fund the Eurozone bailout. Prior to the summit, The Asia Pacific Memo speculated about China’s actions:
The Chinese government supports the objectives set by host France, and welcomes Europe’s leading role. China identifies itself with the long-term European goal of stabilizing the international financial system. But China is not able or willing to broker high-stake conflicts between the US and the EU.
China is counting on the EU economy to help stabilize Chinese exports and balance US influence in international affairs. China wants Europe to carry out more thorough reform to guarantee Chinese investments in the Euro relief package and to open EU markets to China. China may be willing to provide a mixed aid package to the Euro-zone, which may include the purchase of bonds and direct investments into European companies.
As the summit closed last Friday, China remained vague about its plans regarding the Euro, but did make other pledges. From China Daily:
While China never made any concrete promise to help the EU bailout plan, it also never said that it would not help Europe. Indeed, on the contrary, before the G20 summit, Premier Wen Jiabao, on several occasions, expressed the China’s willingness to cooperate with the Europeans during this difficult time.
[...]While help may be necessary, Europe needs to behave in a responsible way and also find its own solutions. China did pledge more help to other developing countries at the summit, in particular, the least developed countries. This was perhaps a reminder to the Europeans that there are others who are poorer and who are more in need of help.
The urgency of the economic situation took the center stage at the summit, diverting attention from another deal in the works between China and an EU country. BBC reports:
The loan of two Chinese pandas to a French zoo has been delayed because of the focus on the Greek crisis at the G20 summit in Cannes.
“Unfortunately… there was no time for the final discussion between President Hu Jintao and President [Nicolas] Sarkozy,” French Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told AFP.
“The panda is such a symbolic animal that such loan agreements require agreement from the highest level in China. That’s why it still lacks the final approval,” Ms Kosciusko-Morizet said during an official visit to China.