It\'s strictly self-interest or nothing for the Chinese. Europe wants China to purchase Eurozone sovereign debt but Beijing would rather buy up the best European brands, companies and intellectual property. China Investment Corp, the sovereign wealth fund in charge of investing Chinese dollar assets abroad, has this tip for the Western economies: increase infrastructure investment and Beijing would happily put its money where the concrete is, but would rather stay away from buying debt. With its economic decisions always rooted in cement and steel, China usually plays spoilsport at the monetary and financial markets. But last week it joined an elite club of five global banks (Bank of Canada, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank, US Federal Reserve and the Swiss National Bank) to provide liquidity support. For the first time since 2008, and in a surprise move, the People\'s Bank of China lowered the reserve-requirement ratio by 50 basis points to enable more than $55 billion (Dh202 billion) to be pumped into the market. Stocks rallied soon after and the Shanghai market rose 2.3 per cent, after a sharp decline midweek. Symbolic prop up? Although the market did rise, this was more of a mood swing with few real fundamentals. Sentiments remain frazzled with manufacturing and fixed asset investment down. Financial stocks were lacklustre as IPO plans announced by commercial banks triggered fears of stock oversupply. Activity was also hurt by expectations that the government was on the verge of allowing foreign companies to list on a new international board, potentially channelising funds out of domestic equities. So why was the surprise prop-up via the reserve-requirement cut important? International clout Internationally, the move was an opportunity to show how big a part China plays in global policymaking. Internally, the cut sets the tone for the monetary policy of 2012 and is the first step in what could be a series of rate cuts next year. This monetary fine-tuning to loosen credit control is an important psychological measure. Bearish sentiment about the Chinese economy has taken a grip on the market in recent months, mainly because the housing sector seemed on the brink of collapse, leaving massive local government debt in its wake. Thus, the CIC\'s advice to Europe to spend generously on infrastructure is a tad untimely. Fears of an \"over-constructed\" China crumbling under its edifice lurks heavy. After all, how feasible is it for a developing country with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $4,400 to keep producing and piling up construction material? Over the past decade, real-estate investment in China has been the single most important contributor to fixed-asset investment growth and to the economy. The real-estate investment-to-GDP ratio has been far higher than it was in countries like Japan and South Korea. One reason for worry is local government debt. Since 2009, local governments were encouraged to create special purpose vehicles called \"local finance platforms\" (LFP). The LFPs would borrow from banks using future government revenue as collateral to finance packaged investment projects in Chinese cities. By 2010, some 6,576 LFPs had been created. It is feared that this local government debt is a ticking time bomb since the total borrowing of these LFPs amount to 10.7 trillion yuan (Dh6.1 trillion), of which more than 79 per cent is bank loans. Ill-timed advice In order to address the aggressive policies unleashed by the diverse and rapidly evolving governments of China\'s many provinces, the IMF and World Bank released a study of the Financial Sector Assessment Programme last month. The report indicates that the stakes have never been this high for China. The international bodies have strongly recommended that China shift to more market-based resource allocation and rely less on banks to fund government-backed initiatives and \"reorient the broader role of government\". Of course, given its monumental economic success of the last three decades, there is little indication that the Chinese government will take the IMF advice and give up its powers for the erratic hand of the market.