Chinese President Visits Austria Ahead of G-20 Meeting

Posted October 31st, 2011 at 6:55 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Austria for a state visit amid signs that Beijing will seek major concessions in exchange for investing in Europe’s debt rescue fund.

Mr. Hu arrived in Vienna late Sunday and held a first round of talks with his Austrian counterpart, Heinz Fischer, on Monday. China’s official Xinhua agency said the Chinese leader would sign seven agreements on trade and other matters.

The visit comes ahead of a crucial meeting Thursday in Cannes, France, of the G-20 group of developed and emerging economic powers, where China will face pressure to invest as much as $100 billion in the European bailout fund established last week.

A commentary Monday in the China Daily newspaper said that in exchange, Europe should recognize China as a market economy, improving its status under international trade rules, and loosen restrictions on high-tech exports to China.

The commentary said China will do what it can to extend a “helping hand” to Europe as a friend, but that it cannot be Europe’s savior or a cure-all for its ills.

The chief of the European fund, Klaus Regling, was in Beijing Friday to seek Chinese investment in the new fund during meetings with Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao.

Zhu told reporters afterwards that China will have a “conscientious discussion” internally before deciding whether to invest in the $1.4 trillion fund. China has $3.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest stockpile.

In Austria, Mr. Hu is scheduled to sign agreements covering trade and economic matters, environmental protection, water conservation, education and culture. Tuesday is devoted to sight-seeking and cultural events.

China recently overtook the United States to become Austria’s biggest trading partner with two-way trade valued at $11.6 billion last year.