Looking for profitable investments, China turns to Europe

[This Chinese move seems motivated by a search for profitable investments and the opportunity to step across the threshold of Europe.  When the Greek financial crisis exploded a few months ago, and Germany, the UK, and the US all resisted bailing out the bankrupt regime, the Chinese smelled an opportunity to go where they could not go before.–Frontlines ed.]

New York Times, November 1, 2010

In Athens, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China toured the Acropolis with Greece's prime minister, George Papandreou.

PARIS — When Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China visited Athens last month, he came bearing gifts: billions of dollars worth of business deals and a wave of favorable attention from a crucial foreign investor.

“The support of our Chinese friends is fortunate for us,” Greece’s minister of state, Haris Pamboukis, said by telephone. But China has much greater ambitions. Greece is one foothold for China’s broad, strategic push into Europe. It is snapping up assets depressed by the global financial crisis and becoming a significant partner of other hard-hit European nations.

That message will be reinforced by a visit this week by China’s president, Hu Jintao, who is scheduled to meet with top officials and business executives of Portugal and France.

Ultimately, analysts say, Beijing hopes to achieve not just more business for its own companies, but also greater influence over the economic policies set in the power corridors of Brussels and Germany.

“They are indicating a willingness to stick their nose into Europe’s business,” said Carl B. Weinberg, chief United States economist of High Frequency Economics. “It’s very clever and sends a clear message,” he added, “that China is a force to be contended with.”