Grand-plan synergy

Updated: 2015-06-26 06:35

By Fu Jing and Martin Banks(China Daily Europe)

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Grand-plan synergy

President Xi Jinping and King Philippe of Belgium attend a ceremony to mark the signing of a memorandum of understanding of strategic partnership by Tian Guoli, chairman of Bank of China, and Andre Papoular, the CEO of Schreder Group, during the king's visit to China. Photos provided to China Daily

King Philippe arrived in China for a one-week visit on June 20 and President Xi Jinping lauded the contribution the royal family has made to bilateral relations.

Briefing the king on modern China, Xi said China's history, culture, traditions and national conditions determine that it must follow a path suitable for itself.

Xinhua New Agency reported that Xi said China had developed socialism with Chinese characteristics over decades of reform and opening up.

The king said he had seen great changes in China and felt the immense potential for Belgium and China to work together more closely.

Li's visit to France was to be the first by a Chinese premier in a decade. Talks between the two governments were scheduled to cover agriculture, civil nuclear power, finance, tourism and other areas of collaboration. Li was also due to visit the headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, an organization in Brussels that promotes EU-China collaboration in the digital field, says there are two ways in which China can help with the plan by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to bring together investment of 315 billion euros for the EU.

First, China could invest in the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which acts as a guarantor for the 315-billion-euro investment, Gambardella says, although it is difficult to say whether the government will plump for such an investment. Complicating the issue is that the governance of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which was set up in the past two months, is yet to be set in stone.

Grand-plan synergy

Second, Chinese commercial banks could invest in individual projects, he says.

"It would be great for Europe if China confirmed that it is interested in increasing investment in the EU China's actual contribution will depend on the attractiveness of individual projects that European regions, cities, member states and individual entities present."

Priority should be given to information and communications technology, he says, because this is the "sector of the future". It is crucial for the development of the economies of both China and the EU, and it is where China can contribute not just financially, but also with technological know-how.

"It would be great if Chinese commercial banks could create a dedicated digital fund for the Juncker plan. This would be a very significant move, with political implications.

"ChinaEU believes the Juncker plan will be a great success, but we have to work together for this to happen. It is up to us to seize these opportunities. I believe a Chinese digital fund would help Europe in its attempts to achieve these goals."

Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, a think tank in Brussels, says China seems to be eager to get Europe to play a big role in its Belt and Road Initiative. However, such participation depends on many things, including capital, he says.

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

"The simple fact is that European countries think very differently about the initiative, and not all have the money to spend."

European countries have shown great interest in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which Erixon says reflects China's rise as an economic power.