China looks for a place in EC investment fund

Updated: 2015-06-16 07:42

By Fu Jing in Brussels and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing(China Daily)

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China looks for a place in EC investment fund

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 4, 2015. [Photo/Agencies] 

Expert says move reflects shared hopes by both sides 'to drag global economy out of stagnation'

Brussels and Beijing are discussing the possibility of Chinese involvement in the European Commission's 315 billion euro ($354.8 billion) investment plan for 2015-17, a senior European Commission official told China Daily on Monday.

The EC official, who did not want to be identified, said, "In the context of the Investment Plan for Europe, the commission has been contacted by stakeholders from outside Europe but no concrete figures or proposals have been presented."

The official said that, in principle, China and other third parties can contribute in three ways to the investment plan - at the level of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, through an investment platform or in an individual project.

Ahead of the EU summit in Brussels on June 29, Reuters reported on Monday that it had seen a draft communique stating that "China will pledge a multibillion-dollar investment in Europe's new infrastructure fund".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a news conference in Beijing on Monday that China "is undertaking studies about the relevant issues" but did not elaborate.

Ding Yifan, an economist at the State Council's Development Research Center, said that the readiness to invest in each other mirrors the shared hopes of both China and Europe to "drag the global economy out of stagnation and give it a boost by financing infrastructure construction".

"The investment plans also serve as a display of support for each other," Ding said.

China's Ambassador to the EU Yang Yi said recently in Brussels that China supports the Juncker Plan - proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and known as the European Fund for Strategic Investment.

Yang said China is looking forward to linking the EU plan with the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Fredrik Erixon, director of the Brussels-based think tank European Centre for International Political Economy, said it is certainly a signal that China will invest to get Europe on board its Silk Road initiative.

Erixon said Europe is investing in domestic infrastructure, some of which can be connected with the Belt and Road Initiative.

"It is critical for both China and Europe that they find ways to cooperate, bilaterally as well as internationally, and the recent initiatives at least testify that both sides are intent on developing forms of cooperation they think will be mutually beneficial," he said.

Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, a new organization in Brussels promoting EU-China collaboration in the digital products and services sector, said Chinese commercial banks could also invest in individual projects.

"It would be great news for Europe if China confirmed its interest to increase investments in the EU," Gambardella said.

Liu Jia in Brussels contributed to this story.