Hillary Clinton, according to one report posted by WikiLeaks, called China "the USA's banker". With the euro bailout deal potentially involving China buying up to €70bn in European bonds, it looks like the nation has just acquired another major client.
This is part of a larger transformation in China's global role. It has quadrupled the size of its economy since 2001, so it's no surprise that it is now so central to international economic and political issues.
If China does buy substantial amounts of eurobonds, then its relationship with the EU will change. China will gain leverage to promote its strategic interests with the union – market economy status, the EU arms embargo and the need to have greater access to European technology.
The EU, in turn, will need to abandon some of its more aspirational language, and become more hard-nosed and pragmatic in the way it pursues China on human rights issues.
In the end, the EU will need a far more sophisticated framework within which to locate China. The days of berating it over its internal issues and telling it to model itself more on a multi-lateral entity such as the EU are coming to an end. China now expects dialogue – on equal terms.
For the EU that means upping its game and thinking about where it wants deeper strategic links. Trying to inhibit China at a time when its reserves are so badly needed no longer makes sense. We are truly in an era where China has, as it has often claimed, become a key part of a multi-polar world.
Kerry Brown leads the Europe China Research and Advice NetworkReuse content