Building a new world order and saving the planet are the modest aims as Europe and China prepare for a one-day summit today. Relations between the two sides have been somewhat strained over continuing criticism of Beijing’s human rights record, and China’s irritation at the platform given to the Dalai Lama when France held the EU’s rotating presidency last year. But most differences will be put aside when they meet in the Czech Republic to discuss how to overcome the worst economic slump in 80 years.
Business though has boomed in both directions over the past eight years. EU exports to China tripled from 26 billion to 78 billion euros from 2000, while imports from China rose similarly from 75 billion to 248 billion euros. European firms have been seduced by the enormous Chinese potential, led by supermarket giant Carrefour, and car-makers like VW and Mercedes. But China’s economic boom has meant an explosion in pollution and arguments over how to tackle it. Brussels wants Beijing to embrace clean technology, while China says developed nations should help foot the bill.