" />

Li Keqiang, China's vice premier, began the first leg of his European tour on Tuesday, starting with a three-day visit to Spain, and the unlikely allies are set to announce a series of economic agreements.

China has vowed to buy Spain's government debt in a multi-million dollar investment, as well as deals involving the energy sector, telecommunications - even olive oil, ham and wine exports to the world's second-largest economy.

Spain's finances are in bad shape, and there have been fears that an Irish- or Greek-style bailout may be needed. However, in an opinion piece in the leading Spanish newspaper, El Pais, Li is pledging that China will come to the rescue.

"China supports Spain in the series of economic and financial adjustment measures it has adopted, and is convinced of the certainty of the full recovery of the Spanish economy ... China is a responsible long-term investor, both in the European and the Spanish financial markets," said Li.

But what is really behind Beijing's move? Is China buying political influence in Europe?

Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, discusses with Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong, Roger Nightingale, an economist and strategist, and Banning Garrett, the director of the Asia Programme at think tank The Atlantic Council US.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Wednesday, January 5, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera