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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Will the NPC ride to the UK's rescue? (3)

By Mark Hughes (China Daily)

08:24, March 13, 2012

The EU is also China's biggest trading partner. In 2010, the EU exported 113.1 billion euros ($148.5 billion) of goods to China, a 38-percent increase on 2009 and imported 281.9 billion euros of goods from China, a 31-percent increase on 2009.

If what emerges from the Greek crisis results in a more protectionist EU, that trade will suffer. The EU might start trying to dump cheap goods on China while imposing higher tariffs on Chinese imports.

China's best friend in the EU is the UK, as witnessed recently by its decision to launch a series of infrastructure projects in Europe starting in Britain. It has already decided to finance a dual carriageway between the southwest city of Exeter and the seaside resort of Torquay, according to a BBC report. It is also interested in building and managing a new London airport in the river Thames.

Chinese investors' nerves were clearly rattled by last year's national strike by British public sector workers protesting about cuts to their "gold-plated" pensions. These demonstrations, which were peaceful, came just a few months after rioting broke out in several cities.

The UK has not experienced the level of civil disorder witnessed in places such as Greece and this form of violent protest is not often manifested in the British DNA where the "stiff upper lip" is the usual reaction to difficult times. In the event, the strike passed quietly and Cameron described it as a "damp squib".

Chinese investors should cast aside any anxieties at this critical time and employ their impressive leverage to ensure the UK does not get marginalized by more protectionist forces. After all, the Chinese are the ones with the biggest financial clout and the least debt, and it is in their interests that a new Europe does not become more protectionist.

The National Party Congress should use the opportunity to make sure this happens.

The author is the executive business editor with China Daily.

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