How the European Crisis Impacts China (欧债危机如何影响中国)

欧债危机如何影响中国

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The EuroFuture Project

November 2012

Paper Series How the European Crisis Impacts China by Qin Yaqing Europe Matters The onset of the financial crisis in 2007 led to the wide-spread implementation of stimulus plans by the world’s major economies, developed and developing alike. While some of these measures were effective, the debt problem has become increasingly serious for many governments, and especially in the eurozone, where many countries had previously accumulated heavy debt burdens. Greece was the first to get into financial trouble, followed by Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy— all of which already had weak financial institutions and structural challenges in their economies. The European Union (EU) is China’s largest trading partner and one of its main sources of foreign direct investment. Europe is also China’s strategic partner and one of the decisive actors in China’s foreign policy. For China, the euro crisis is not only an economic problem, but also a strategic issue with long-term and deeply consequential impacts. The European Crisis: An Appraisal In today’s China, there are two general perspectives on the European debt crisis. The first views the crisis as a serious, enduring situation that has adversely affected the world economy in general and the Chinese economy in particular. The second holds that the crisis is manageable and that Europe has the ability to solve it. However, to accomplish this goal, substantial reform will be required, which, in turn, needs political will and effective regional leadership. The European debt crisis first began to attract global attention in 2009 when Greece declared that its deficit was 13.7 percent of GDP, not 6 percent. Initially, many in China thought that the problem would be short-term and that the EU would be able to address the problem quickly and effectively. It was argued in China that the euro crisis was not only one of many crises of its kind to be found in history, but also that it was comparatively less serious than those that preceded it.1 These views were supported by the confidence in the overall strength of the EU economy, the efforts by European countries, and the assistance of international organizations.2 But the situation did not develop positively: by the end of 2011, Greek debt had reached an intolerable high of 165.3 1 Zhang Yuyan,“Jiejue Ouzhai Weiji XukaoTuijin Ouzhou Yitihua (Solution to the European Debt Crisis Lies in Further European Integration),” http://www.mianfeiwendang.com/dzb/ html/2012-01/16/content_3970.htm?div=-1, accessed on September 1, 2012. 2 Qiu Yuanlun,“Ouzhou Qianjing Bingbu Andan (European’s Future is not Dark),” http://opinion.hexun. com/2011-07-25/131715418.html, accessed on September 1, 2012

Summary: For China, the euro crisis is an economic problem, but also a strategic issue with long-term and deeply consequential impacts. After three decades of rapid development, China’s further growth is dependent upon a dynamic i

nternational economic environment. As China’s largest trading partner, the EU plays a crucial role. The shrinking market in Europe and the appreciation of the Chinese currency have clearly affected exports. This challenge is also an opportunity, for the crisis has forced China to speed up its domestic economic restructuring. Strategically, Europe’s weakening may diminish its role as a balancer in the international system. This outcome is not in China’s interest since its vision is a multi-polar world. At the same time, the European crisis has improved China’s position in the global arena.

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How the European Crisis Impacts China (欧债危机如何影响中国)

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