It gets worse and worse with China. The latest is the suspicion that China will prop up the Euro to cleave a rift between the US and Europe on the transfer of strategic western technology to China. Chinese toxicity spreads.
Vice Premier Li Keqiang, during his recent visit to the UK, called on the EU to relax the restrictions of high-tech exports to China, as well as the lifting of the arms embargo and the recognition of China's full market economy status.
China's leaders know they can depend on the greed, incompetence, and stupidity of Western leaders. China intends to dominate and win. Watch for the next clue to slam our clueless leaders up the side of the head, Chinese naval bases in Africa and the Mediterranean.
Europe fears motives of Chinese super-creditor
The EU authorities fear that China's purpose in buying eurozone debt may be double-edged, intended to push up the euro exchange rate against the yuan and gain advantage for exports.8:08PM GMT 13 Jan 2011
Herman Van Rompuy, Europe's president, said during a visit to Downing Street that the Chinese may have "political" thoughts in the back of their minds for coming to Europe's help, and gave a strong hint that they are also engaging in currency manipulation.
"When they buy euros, the euro becomes stronger and their currency a little bit weaker. That is not neutral in regard to their competitive position. But I go no further in this topic. It could be too delicate," he said.
Mr Van Rompuy nevertheless welcomed the latest purchases of bonds from the eurozone periphery as a valuable gesture of support. "They invested even in some weak countries, so they are very confident in the solvency of some countries," he said.
China has emerged as the transforming force in the eurozone debt crisis over recent days, pledging to use part of its €2.87 trillion (£1.82 trillion) reserves to safeguard global stability. The question is whether the Communist regime is hoping to extract strategic concessions in exchange.
The footsteps of a giant creditor were clearly felt in Portugal's bond markets on Wednesday, and again on Thursday in Spain and Italy. Madrid sold €3bn of five-year debt at 4.54pc, a full percentage point jump from November but still below the danger level. Italy also enjoyed a benign auction.
The exact role of China is unclear. Chinese vice-premier Li Keqiang promised to buy Spanish debt during a visit to Madrid last week, reportedly up to €6bn (£5bn).
China was the secret buyer in a private placement of €1.1bn of Portuguese debt last week, according to the Wall Street Journal. Finance minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said China "may well have been" a key buyer in this week's debt auction.
China was not the only force at work. Traders say the European Central Bank (ECB) acted aggressively behind the scenes, calling some 20 dealers to buy Portuguese debt in the secondary market.
This created what amounted to a "short-squeeze" in Portuguese bonds just before auction, causing spreads to tighten dramatically and inflicting damage on market makers acting in good faith. City sources say this has caused some bitterness.
Charles Grant, head of the Centre for European Reform and author of a book on EU-China relations, said China's top goal is to secure an end to the EU arms embargo, imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. It rankles as humiliating treatment for a global superpower that has since changed profoundly.
The EU has refused to move on the sanctions until China ratifies the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, and China's arrest of Nobel peace dissident Liu Xiaobo has further complicated matters.
Yet Brussels has suddenly begun to shift gear. Baroness Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, said the embargo is damaging EU-China ties and called for new thinking to "design a way forward".
Mr Grant said Britain, France and Germany are all wary of giving ground, cleaving closely to US policy. Washington views China's growing military might as a strategic threat to the Pacific region. There have already been hot words over the South China Sea, and the Pentagon claims that China has an "operational" ballistic missile able to sink aircraft carriers at long range.
A WikiLeaks cable from the US embassy in Beijing last January cites the EU's mission chief, Alexander McLachlan, saying Spain had tried to curry favour with Chinese leaders, "seeking advantage at other EU states' expense". He said China was fully aware of Madrid's game but was exploiting intra-EU divisions to gain leverage.
China's second goal is to secure market economy status from the EU. This would make it much harder for the EU to impose anti-dumping measures against Chinese imports. As it happens, the EU has just lifted its punitive tariff on Chinese shoes.
Mr Grant said Beijing will not risk much cash to woo Europe. "They are very hard-nosed. They may splash some money around for goodwill but they are not going to waste the hundreds of billions that may be needed. Nothing short of meaningful action by Europe's leaders can genuinely stabilise the eurozone," he said.
China's sovereign wealth funds, including the central bank's exchange fund SAFE, have been severely criticised at home for losing money on US investment banks during the credit crisis, or on dollar losses from US Treasury debt. They will be careful about fresh risks in Euroland.
"It is debatable whether China would actually be willing to become buyer of last resort of the debt of a country close to default," said Julian Jessop from Capital Economics. "Chinese officials are acutely aware of past losses and will not want to be seen to risk their peoples' capital on a lost cause. Their actions frequently fall short of expectations raised by their words."
Simon Derrick, from the Bank of New York Mellon, said that China must find somewhere to recycle its fresh reserves or lose control of its own currency. It is already sated with US assets. Holdings are 65pc in dollars, 26pc in euros, 5pc in sterling and 3pc in the yen.
"They may start buying some emerging market bonds but basically the only place they can go is into euros, and buying €6bn of Spanish debt is a good investment if it helps protect their other euro assets," he said.
Mr Derrick said Beijing appears to take the view that the ECB's monetary policy is fundamentally more rigorous than the money-printing ventures of the US Federal Reserve. "The Chinese have made it clear that they don't see any meaningful shift in US policy."
In the global beauty contest, Europe's debt still looks less ugly than the main alternative.