BRUSSELS (AP) — The prime minister of China, the European Union's No. 2 trading partner, called Monday on Greece and its creditors to reach a last-minute deal that will allow Greece to remain in the eurozone.
"Whether Greece stays within the euro is not only a question that concerns Europe, but also concerns China and Europe," Li Keqiang told reporters at the end of an EU-China summit meeting in Brussels. "In addition, this is also something that concerns world financial stability and economic recovery."
Li noted his country is a major customer and supplier for the 28-nation EU, and a long-term holder of eurobonds. He said China is in favor of a united and prosperous EU, as well as a strong euro.
"That is why China wants to see Greece stay in the euro, stay in the eurozone, and we urge relevant creditors to reach an agreement with the Greek government at an early time," the Chinese premier said.
Li's visit marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of official ties between China and the EU. According to EU officials, China is the bloc's second most important trading partner behind the United States, accounting in 2014 for 14 percent of its total trade in goods outside the EU, compared to 9 percent in 2004.
One of Li's hosts, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said two-way trade now surpasses 1 billion euros (dollars) a day, but added in a speech that "we have to do better to interconnect."
One area where China and the EU haven't seen eye to eye is restrictions on carbon emissions. Li told reporters China is making "strenuous efforts" and will inform U.N. officials by Tuesday of its proposed national contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in preparation for the international conference on climate change to be held in Paris this November and December.
In a joint statement, the EU and China pledged to work toward a "legally binding agreement" in Paris that would apply to all countries.
The statement borrowed language from a U.S.-China announcement last year on the sensitive issue of how to divide emissions cuts among countries in various stages of development, saying the deal should reflect "different national circumstances." Many observers say that wording suggests developing countries should take on growing commitments as they evolve.
The EU and China pledged to step up their cooperation on climate research and carbon markets, which provide financial incentives to reduce carbon emissions.
The EU launched its Emissions Trading System in 2005 and China has created regional carbon markets, with the ambition of creating a nationwide system.