China takes long view with rescue role
AS China prepares to play a role that it has rehearsed and dreamt of for years, an editorial by the state-run news agency gave a telling flash of Beijing's teeth.
The language was darkly evocative. Written just two weeks after a two-year-old Chinese girl was run down and 18 people were filmed ignoring the mangled child, the Xinhua editorial asserted that China would not be a "bystander" of the euro-zone crisis, and that emerging economies "should not be seen as the EU's Good Samaritans".
China's largest trading partner bloc, ran the clear subtext, was a helpless, bleeding toddler in need of urgent life-support.
The tone is partly designed to head off domestic objection to Beijing's role in the bailout.
It is pre-empting uncomfortable questions at home over why an emerging economy with large-scale poverty should be coming to the aid of feckless developed economies who spent, speculated and lazed their way into crisis.
But China's proposed role in helping to rescue Europe brings into sharp relief profound shifts under way in global economic power.
Emerging markets were the supplicants when the Western-dominated International Monetary Fund was called upon to rescue their economies in the 1990s.
Now the tables are turned, with China relishing the prospect of enhancing their world political stature by helping stricken developed economies.
Beijing has clearly signalled that there will be strings attached to its munificence.
On his recent tour of Europe, Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister, repeatedly employed the narrative of "partnership" to suggest that China had, on balance, been the more generous partner and that it was high time that Europe reciprocated.
Beijing would dearly like to be granted market economy status by the EU, and its participation in the deal may very well guarantee that.
Besides securing that sort of banner gesture, China will probably assume that a relatively small contribution to the bailout will significantly leverage some of the political capital that it has amassed....MORE