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CIC urges Europe to open further

(China Daily)

14:11, May 24, 2012

China will continue to support Europe's attempts to overcome its eurozone crisis and Europe should be more open to inflows of capital, particularly at a time when the region needs liquidity, said a top official from China's sovereign wealth fund.

"China's commitment to supporting Europe and its efforts to deal with the sovereign debt crisis is firm and unambiguous," Jin Liqun, chairman of the board of supervisors of China Investment Corp, said at an event held on Tuesday by the Center for Policy Studies, a think tank in the United Kingdom.

Europe is China's largest trading partner. Jin said both sides should work to ensure they maintain good trade relations with each other, particularly at a time when trade is playing an important role in "helping countries get out of the woods".

Jin said he remains confident and optimistic about the eurozone, which is composed of 17 European countries that use the euro as their common currency. Europe has many advantages, such as an educated population, state-of-the-art technology and the ability to compete successfully in many fields, he said.

"At least for now, European companies have the essential technology," said Jin, who worked as China's deputy finance minister before joining China Investment Corp.

For the current cooperation with Europe to be sustained, Jin said, the region needs to treat Chinese investments fairly.

"There are some invisible impediments to our investments in some countries in Europe," he said.

"A lot of the concerns about so-called social national security actually have nothing to do with security. The most serious source of insecurity is a lack of growth."

Speaking of ways in which China and Europe can cooperate, he cited nuclear power stations. He said China has a demand for that technology and Europe has the ability to supply it.

"But so far we don't want to touch this because of concerns about national security," he said.

For now, China Investment Corp has decided only to put money into investments that give no rise to worries about security, he said. The corporation will never invest in gambling or anything to do with tobacco, and its investments will not cause serious harm to the environment, he said.

"The concern (about national security) will not go away soon," he said. "We will be patient."

So far, the corporation's investments have met with little resistance from developing countries, Jin said. But there are challenges in those places, such as political instability as well as a lack of the rule of law.

Jin said China Investment Corp is considering investing in African countries, as it has already done in South Africa.

"We are looking at investment opportunities all over the world," he said, adding that capital flows to places where it meets the least resistance.

In January, China Investment Corp acquired an 8.68-percent stake in Thames Water, the largest water and sewage company in the United Kingdom.

"The UK is open," Jin said. "That's why we have spent a lot of money here."

China Investment Corp, established in 2007, had $374.3 billion in assets by the end of 2010.

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