China Tightens The Vise On Eurozone Bailout

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

The European Union has filed a laundry list of complaints against Chinese dumping, from shoes to fasteners. Ceramics, for example. Household ceramics got hit last week. In 2011, it was building ceramics. In 2010, it was ceramic tiles, which led to a punitive tax of 69.7%—punitive for consumers who ended up having to pay higher prices, though it was a nice gift to European producers. Now, it has chosen another target, Chinese steel. But with nearly half of the world’s steel production, the Chinese steel industry is the bully on the block. And it flexed its pumped-up muscles—putting at stake the very manna that European officials have been praying for.

Rumors of the Chinese savior appearing on the horizon goosed financial markets innumerable times. China, out of the goodness of its big heart, would use its $3.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves to bail out the Eurozone with the stroke of a plastic pen. Turns out, China didn’t have a big heart but a list of unpalatable demands—so unpalatable that even a desperate European panhandling delegation sent to Beijing in November turned them down. For this “slap in the face” and the fiasco that followed, read.... Chinese Money and the Quid Pro Quo.

Ten days ago, another top-level EU begging expedition tried to lure Premier Wen Jiabao into plowing part of China’s foreign-exchange trillions into the European bailout fund, a dreadfully convoluted and opaque creature that they passed off as a rose. But rather than kick the conniving beggars out, Wen declared soothingly that Europe was an important partner, and that China and the EU would work together to solve the debt crisis—and the delegation left once again empty-handed. Read.... Bitter Irony of the EU Begging Expedition.

But yesterday, it was brutal. It was an unnamed official at the Commerce Ministry who slugged the EU and everyone who was still steeped in some sort of hope that China would, out of the goodness of its heart, bail out debt sinner countries in the Eurozone.

The trigger: earlier this week, the European Commission opened an anti-subsidy investigation of Chinese organic-coated steel (galvanized and pre-painted) of the type used in household appliances. In December, the Commission had already launched an anti-dumping investigation of the same products. Two separate investigations and two complaints with the World Trade Organization on the same products.

The instigator: Eurofer, the European Steel Association. In January, it whined to the Commission about Chinese steelmakers that didn’t respect the rules of free trade—they received a range of subsidies, such as tax exemptions, preferential loans, and below-market cost of materials that the government purchased for them.

The European steel industry is in trouble. Demand cratered. Producers from ArcelorMittal to ThyssenKrupp have shut down steel mills to prop up prices—but all it did was invite Chinese steelmakers.

And they’re desperate. After years of explosive growth, they’re facing colossal over-capacity, just as demand is slumping. Premier Wen Jiabao acknowledged the problem during a visit to Hunan, where much of the steel is made, and he exhorted the industry to consolidate. So the trade complaint came at a very inconvenient moment.

"Launching an anti-subsidy investigation at this time sends the wrong signal of trade protectionism that will not only cast a shadow over China-EU steel trade, but also damage China-EU efforts to respond to the crisis," said the unnamed Ministry of Commerce official. "With ... many European countries deeply trapped by the sovereign debt crisis, all countries should have a more open, cooperative and forgiving attitude in facing the crisis."

Open, cooperative, and forgiving towards China—the new rules that China is imposing on the game. Or perhaps just a re-write of very ancient rules. Those with the money get to set the terms when those who need it are desperate. Remains to be seen if someday the Eurozone will be desperate enough for Chinese money to compromise on the support for its coddled industries.

Meanwhile, life in China goes on in its crazy manner: all heck broke loose when Zhejiang's Provincial Administration announced that 30,000 blood nests, the rarest and most expensive bird's nest, contained high concentrations of sodium nitrite. Well-off Chinese were suddenly worried about an insidious food-safety scandal that has changed ... nothing. Read: Poisonous Blood Nests—Still a Delicacy in China.

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Yen Cross's picture

China, just wants a good )> entry point!

AbelCatalyst's picture

I'm so sick of the China-savior thing. They have the same issues the entire world does... They live on exports and when demand dries up (as it is now), they are screwed (read: revolution and blood in the streets). China is leveraged to the gills with debt just like the rest us. There is no easy answer to this worldwide crisis - the only solution is personal responsibility, living within ones means, hard work, humble lifestyles, and basic values. Money does not buy these principles and over consumption of little imported trinkets is not the end all and be all. STOP WITH THE CHINA SAVIOR B.S.!!

Yen Cross's picture

Look at the recent China ( PPI/CPI) numbers. Just like Tylers said. Upward revisions on previous downward revisions. Who in the HELL trusts China anyways? SHIT, PBoC is unloading ( U.S. Treasuries at an alarming rate).


   A YUAN is a YUAN! A (Renminbi) is comic dunce idiocacy!   FLOAT the currency PBoC! GET Legit!

The Alarmist's picture

This reminds me of the story of the barbarians besieging Rome, and upon the barbarians giving their terms demanding all the gold, silver, jewels and other items of wealth in the city, being answered by the Romans with, "But what will that leave us?"

Seems old habits die hard.

BTW, the barbarian answer was, "Your lives!"

AnAnonymous's picture

You know what it reminds me of?

US citizens in a similar situation but on the other side of the fence.

30,40 years ago, US of A was blaming other economies not to grow fast enough to be able to absord US capacity excess. Other countries were urged to take some economics measures to orient toward growth and more consumption.

Now, US of A says that some economies are growing too fast and should slow down.

Funnily enough, China asks Europeans to take decisions to set themselves back on the path of growth/consumption.

Everything is situational in US citizenism. Just 30,40 years ago. Human memory.

americanspirit's picture

China doesn't have to expend its foreign currency reserves to get what she wants in Europe. All she has to do is to wait while the Europeans destroy each other and the whole place will be available for a penny on the Euro, complete with slaves.

americanspirit's picture

China doesn't have to expend its foreign currency reserves to get what she wants in Europe. All she has to do is to wait while the Europeans destroy each other and the whole place will be available for a penny on the Euro, complete with slaves.

rsnoble's picture

Interesting all the steel oversupply stories. Supposedly they are buying abondoned buildings in the south and feeling them with steel.

Meanwhile I have a small metal shop and buy my supplies from the cheapest place in a large metro area that's available to me. Prices are higher than they've ever been, I can't build shit now and make any $ worthwhile.

Not only that the local scrapyards are a complete nuthouse. Scrap prices are so high people are bringing shit in their car trunks!!

So if there's no demand........isn't all this hysteria due for a pop??

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

"With no control over supply lines and commodities that are traded in a monopolitistic currency that can be acquired from the US of A only."

A pure fiat currency that will last an indefinitely? Do you believe that this time is truly different?

Perhaps you are correct. In any case the show is interesting to watch. Especially the printing, can kicking and escalating in our faces fraud.

AnAnonymous's picture

A pure fiat currency that will last an indefinitely? Do you believe that this time is truly different?


Two things: this time, it is different. Usually, the downfall of debased currency happens when key actors refuse to accept the currency.

The US has made sure this wont happen easily this time as so much countries are entangled in the US world order web of debt, repayable in USD.

The second thing: it is not about lasting indefinitively.

US citizens are aiming for depletion of resources. The fiat system is designed to bring them as close as possible to the final point of depletion.

At that moment, guess what? What would be the use of a world reserve currency when two thirds of countries around the world are left with very few resources to be exported and be bought through USD? None.

It is a huge heist, cleaning the world mall, buying and consuming as much as possible. Once you've dried the mall empty, credit cards are useless. Nothing left to buy.

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

One interesting difference between Chinese citizens and Western citizens... The Chinese seem to realize the importance of saving a hefty portion of their incomes even when their incomes are tiny compared to incomes of Westerners.

Additionally, the Chinese gov actively encourages their citizens to save in PMs... A ploy that I have not seen used by Western govs/central banks.

I have read a great deal about China converting it's export oriented economic model to one driven by internal consumption. I doubt this change will be easily accomplished when the mind set of ~1.2 billion citizens are, for the most part, extremely frugal.

In any case the articles written about increasing internal Chinese consumption appear in the Western press... I doubt that the Chinese gov believes that it can change the mind set of it's citizens regarding personal savings.

"No extension of foreign trade will immediately increase the amount of value in a country, although it will very powerfully contribute to increase the mass of commodities and therefore the sum of enjoyments." ... David Ricardo

Consider what the Chinese are importing as opposed to what the West is importing.


Tompooz's picture

    Additionally, the Chinese gov actively encourages their citizens to save in PMs... A ploy that I have not seen used by Western govs/central banks.


Snidley, I have google-researched this factoid because on the face of it is so unlikely and I found that, indeed, it is not true.  The factoid is based on a single TV news item that highlighted the efforts of a new silver bullion selling company. No official government encouragement of any kind, but lots of derivative "headlines" all over the 'net stating what you stated above.

The Chinese subjects don't need any official encouragement to buy PM's!

smb12321's picture

Chinese are different in another way- their utter sheep-like attitude toward state authority.  In 2008, the government "asked" folks to buy things and they did! How fair is it when China openly refuses to play by the same rules as the rest of the world?  You are right about the frugality and we must not forget that 400 billion live on about 1 dollar a day.

AnAnonymous's picture

1.2 billion is a large number.

You dont need all of them to increase domestic consumption.

A large number of chinese do not work more than 5 five years in sweat shops. They work until they have enough to constitute their dowry and marry.

US citizenism is based on consumption, not conservation.

As US citizenism is spreading in China, mindsets are doomed to change.

Already the converts to US citizens are to accounted in hundred of millions in China. Quite enough to spur domestic consumption.

The major issue of China is to secure the necessary supply in commodities to meet that burgeoning demand.

With no control over supply lines and commodities that are traded in a monopolitistic currency that can be acquired from the US of A only.

jwoop66's picture

Please stop with the tedious "citezinism" meme.   Jesus, its fuckin annoying.

AnAnonymous's picture

That's US citizenism. And its official substitute 'americanism' is nothing better.

jwoop66's picture

It's dumb, dude...    

SKY85hawk's picture

Sooooooooo, suggest something better!

It's clear you are smart.

Have you read any of the myriad Demographic pundits?

We all have our opinions of why gummints are silent on the "aging of the baby boom"

We're SAVING to provide what the gummint can/WILL not provide. 

If this is new to you, consider Harry Dent, he's been pounding this drum for 20 years.

Why else has the gummint lowered interest rates AND cola's?


need i say duh?


jwoop66's picture

I've read Dent.   I just think the citizenism thing sounds dumb.

falak pema's picture

According to this table most of the privately held gold is in India. In the form of jewelry. I don't know how China compares with India. Current Chinese/HK imports have totalled 100 t apprx. on annual basis in 2010, 2011.

Gold reserve - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Which country has largest private gold holding

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

falak pema...

I don't have a clue where 'most of the foreign held gold reserves are located' and I doubt that any single individual or group of people know the answer.

I have heard that the population of India holds ~ 15,000 tons of gold in mostly jewelry form... but I don't know if this is a fact... since gold smuggling into India to avoid gov regs/taxes has been ongoing for centuries the amount could be much larger or much smaller. Who knows?

I do know that some Chinese families still hold silver minted by the Spanish and Mexicans and have handed it down through many generations in families. I know this because I have seen it with my own eyes... and I am not saying that all Chinese families are sitting on stored piles of old silver... just saying what was shown to me.

I know that the Chinese have stopped exporting mined Chinese gold and silver... and this I 'know' only because this was reported on the internet.

Who is to say that the Saudis (or some other large oil producer or individual families) do not have more stored gold than the Indians or Chinese or US or anyone else? Since the modern world runs on oil, and SA exports a lot of it, might they have secretly accumulated a lot of gold prior to Nixon closing the gold window? Although the petro dollar arrangement required SA to sell oil only for dollars, who is to deny that some oil was sold to some countries for gold? Who is to say that when a large oil producer says they cannot increase production that it is because their increased production is being sold for gold?

As we should well know from the brick wall that the request for audit of US gold has continually run into, the secrets of gold possession are about as closely held as those of nuclear weapons.

Perhaps this is how it should be... and if it isn't the way it should be, it's the way it is. 

Hey, I enjoy the discussions with you and I enjoy speculating about the dispersion of PMs as much as you do. All I'm saying is that much of what we 'know' about PM dispersion is guess work.

falak pema's picture


Appreciate your posts. Its ironic how we all preach that transparency is good for democracy and well functioning markets; yet as the last ten years have shown us, the 2007-08 financial crisis was spawned from SPVs and HFs, all off shore in shadow banking lands! Lehman, the prime example of the hidden Mahdi of this beginning of financial armageddon as recession looks like becoming depression of new dimension. 

Why should it be different for gold indeed. As for nuclear, you have hit a raw nerve of current political dynamics; as Syria now shows us. Since USSR collapse, we have never seen such a resurgence of interest in the nuclear arms global chess game, and it's moving from orange to red zone! Awesome! If push comes to shove, nations like Israel, iran and Pakistan will all have the potential to deliver the flint to the regional powder keg!

Libertarian777's picture

its always the case with politicians

say one thing do another.

Yes our politicians complain about China's lack of transparency, yet to get an audit of the Federal Reserve is like trying to part the Red Sea.

Hillary Clinton admonishes China for its human rights record, yet China doesn't have overseas detention camps, and the USA has 2 MILLION people incarcerated (mostly minorities), whereas China only has 1 million prisoners. China has 4 times the population of the USA, so the USA's incarceration rate is EIGHT times higher than China.

We bemaon China's government subsidising their solar companies, resulting in the glut of solar panels (which ironically means US consumers can now get solar panels for < $1/watt), yet we can waste $520m on Solyndra and just chalk it up to 'well you win some you lose some'.

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

falak pema... Always a pleasure for me when we share our views.

RE: "As for nuclear, you have hit a raw nerve of current political dynamics; as Syria now shows us..."

I sensed a great change when Israel attacked the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon with conventional weapons. The ground attack with modern tanks and trained infantry went very badly for israel. I'm certain that Hezbollah lost lots of men and equipment but they seemingly have lots of very determined fighters and an unlimited supply of military hardware...reportedly being smuggled through Syria.

Although Israel has a far superior air force, territory is not taken and held by air power alone. If it was the Germans would have surrendered to the massive US Army Air Corps and Brit air raids of WW2.  

All I'm saying here is that Israel was unable to take and hold ground (and water) in Southern Lebanon with their ground forces even when they enjoyed air superiority.

I was stunned by this outcome. I suspect that the US and Israeli political and military leaders were even more stunned than I.

Perhaps taking Syria out of the supply link to Hezbollah is a primary goal of Israel and the US? Once again, I'm guessing.

Meanwhile, I hope no nation starts a nuke conflict. I see no winners in that direction.

falak pema's picture

Fast Eddie DRaghi and Minnesota Fats Ben have their work cut out. The chinese dragon plays by its own rules.

Tightening the vice would be more appropriate; as "vice" has a double meaning...

Vicious world we live in when the financial vice tightens and moral vice ripens...

williambanzai7's picture

Those panhandling Europeans rely on China as the key growth market for their fancy high end designer products.

Stupid panhandling Europeans.

Jim in MN's picture

"Welcome to our blood nest, BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA"

Al Gorerhythm's picture

I'd rather have the chicken. I've heard it's rubbery.

elderstew's picture

So just what has China not adopted from western capitialism? What do the Chinese people adhere to that western people do not?

China plays the free market game by the rules as codified by our laws, on our terms. It's true, they have become exceedding efficient at it. Moan all you want for losing, but we are the ones who set the rules.

AnAnonymous's picture

My,my, my, my...

Speaking straightforwardly, no gloves, delivering sheer basic facts... to US citizens.

It is going to hurt their feelings.

US citizens have an ancestral right to follow US citizenism.

Chinese have not. US citizenism is to be reserved to historical US citizens.

Chinese have adopted US citizen economics.

But they are adopting other parts of US citizenism.

Good article on US citizenism spreading in China

Notice that US citizens are unable to ascribe the appropriate name to the phenomenum.

But huge give out: it is easy to find US citizen countries that have spread the vision of the negro related in the article. Fascist countries not so many...

Chineses are turning to US citizenism and adopting it.

falak pema's picture

In the article linked above by Ananonymous there is this quote :

...Paxton provides a useful definition of fascism as "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."...

If this PAxton is the same historian who discovered the true face of French fascism during the Occupation and showed it to the bemused French nation thirty years later, he is once again true to his reputation. It was a true electroshock, and PAxton deserves kudos for having taken the blinkers off this sad period in French history, which de Gaulle and his pre-IVth republic tenure occulted, ironically, in order to calm communist retaliatory ardour and re-unite the french bourgoeisie once again behind  Gaullist policies. In the aftermath of french post-war construction, successive french governments followed suit, forgetting past home bred fascism; as they deployed neocolonial fascist measures in Indochina and Algeria subsequently. We know how that eneded...

So when Paxton brought out his blockbuster history of the Nazi occupation of France in the 70s he did the french nation a signal service, that most local historians had trouble to face upto in their own water down versions prevalent in post war literature.

This current phrase is the best definition of fascism I have seen,  so clearly stated in terms of mind set and objective.

In the current political context Marine Le Pen should read it as should ALL her rivals in current upcoming election... Eyeopener and smack on the button! This is HER program. As those of right wing governments in Hungary etc. Ominous game changer if they gain momentum in current economic meltdown...and technocratic crony oligarchy euro collapse.

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

fp... excellent quote from Paxton... too tough a pill for many to swallow but true nontheless.

AnAnonymous's picture

How is it useful?
It provides no cover for US citizens. It is so hollow.
Fascism is posterior to US citizenism.
Why call US citizenism by the name of a posterior movement?

What point is not met by US citizens in the US in 1800s? What point does not characterized US citizenism?

Once again, US citizens are kicking the can. What is spreading in China is not fascism, what is spreading is US citizenism.

Chinese are growing more and more US citizen.

snowball777's picture

Well maybe Us Citizenism is exactly what China needs...a Foxconn revolution that makes Kentucky look good for manufacturing.

US Citizen are growing more US Citizen.

steve from virginia's picture


How funny. European begging expeditions. Too bad I couldn't have been a fly on the wall as the Chinese told the French to 'go fucke yourselves'.

I'll have to wait until the neighbors are across the street begging for gas ...

 - Like the Europeons haven't been subsidizing shit: where did those trillions of euro debts come from? Subsidizing EU steel, EU ceramic tiles, EU automobiles, EU etc.

 - The Chinese subsidies are recycled EU subsidies to Chinese manufacturers. Where do all those euros go when they are used to obtain poisonous Chinese 'food'?

 - Chinese subsides are courtesy Bennie Bernanke. Carry trades are made of this ... tens of trillions of dollar debt subsidies. All your Hunan steel base are belong to us!

 - China should get rid of its euros. Hanging onto them will appear really stupid in hindsight after the euro is well- and roundly repudiated by the Europeons. Even Bernanke won't take them at that point.

 - BTW, China is really broke, it just has a lot of steel mills and shitty, face-rotting food. I can think of things I would rather have a 'lot of' besides steel mills. Having a couple of Picassos would be nice. Excess steel mills is like having too many euros ...

JohnKozac's picture



"Those with the money get to set the term...."


Wrong...should say:


"Those with the most powerful military get to set the terms...."


Wait 'till Schumer pushes again for his 20% tariff on all goods from The Middle Kingdom. That will teach them!

Al Gorerhythm's picture

'Till the king runs out of money.

i-dog's picture

Well, well ... a dumb cheerleader with her tutu in a twist!

A 20% tariff on all imports from China will shred the profits (and therefore jobs) of American importers (eg. AAPL, GE, TGT, WMT, BBY) and further squeeze the American consumer.

But, by all means, push for it....

apberusdisvet's picture

Chinese leaders think in terms of generations, Westerners are merely focussed on the next election cycle and how much bankster cash they can secret away in off shore accounts.  It's that simple as to the eventual winner.

jwoop66's picture

Any ideology based on communism and oppression is not looking to the future at all. Certainly not in any realistic way.

They might have invented the noodle and wrote the Art of War, but it seems to me those were the highest achievements of their civilization.   Lets wait another 50 years before we even start to talk about how far sighted they are.

Iraq was called the cradle of civilization,  you should see that shithole up close now.   China has a long way to go to prove itself in the modern world.

Terminus C's picture

You should read some history before you post historical comments.

Why, exactly, is Iraq a shithole?  Is it because they lack natural resources?  Is it because they lack educated people?  Is it because they have been the imperial bitch of the British and American empires for the past 100+ years?  Hmmm, not sure I can figure this one out.

I am not defending China here, as they have a HUGE debt bubble, a massive environmental bomb about to explode and a massive productive overcapacity which is about to collapse.

jwoop66's picture

History?  Ever hear of the Tigris and Euphrates? Mesopotamia?  Babylon?  The Ziggurat of UR is one of the oldest standing buildings in the world.   Where is the "cradle of civilization"?    Iraq is a shithole.   Go there and check it out.  I lived in probably one of the prettiest parts of Iraq for a few years recently and it was a shithole.  BIAP even after renovation is dingy at best.   They have lots of oil.  South of Baghdad, in between the rivers is very fertile land.  I'm guessing their culture and probably religion is why their greatness has passed. If they are or were someone elses bitch it is probably because of their past actions; or inaction.  Whatever. What can't you figure out?  

The reason I mentioned Iraq is to point out past "greatness" may not reflect in current conditions.  China is looked at by many, with good reason, as one of the worlds greatest civilizations.   Fine.   Since the 15th century, however,  they have been in decline - up until approx. 15-20 years ago.   Suddenly they are the standard of success?   Maybe we should wait till their current system shows some long term success before we praise it.   Remember - 20 years ago Japan was going to rule the planet.


jwoop66's picture

I forgot to mention  that even before the 15th century, they never were the epitome of national stability. 

AnAnonymous's picture

And? The remark is stupid and reeks of US citizenism.

Thinking long term, short term, what does it mean with US citizens?

Mind to explain?

US citizen nature is eternal.

US citizens have not changed one bit.

When a president is introduced, he keeps pushing the same policy as his predecessor.

IS pursuing the same agenda since 1776 thinking long term?

There is once again a confusion: because you are not part of the long term plan of US citizens, does not mean US citizens do not think long term.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

FuckenAnA! You sound like your are tying yourself into a Georgian Knot; or at least your knickers.

DeltaDawn's picture

The Chinese elite think in terms of their prodigy, their power, their control, their pleasures, just as the western elites do.

Buck Johnson's picture

You got that right, when you have a longterm thinker fighting a short term thinker, the longterm wins in the long run.