Reinforcing Europe’s influence on the world stage is one of the big goals behind the EU’s streamlining of its highest positions. Europe wants to be seen as a global presence like the US and China. Trade and human rights rows continue between China and the EU and individual EU countries.
Euronews asks expert Shi Zhiqin, professor of International Relations at the University of Tsinghua in Beijing, about Chinese perceptions of Europe. Euronews: “The European Union now knows that its first Council President will be Herman Van Rompuy and its first High Representative for Foreign Affairs will be Baroness Catherine Ashton. Can I ask you how familiar is China with these two people?” Shi: “We can say that we are a little surprised but also I think it’s normal because Van Rompuy did very well in his job as Prime Minister of Belgium. As for Ashton, maybe we are a little surprised because we thought the foreign affairs minister, according to the media, should have gone to Massimo D’Alema.” Euronews: “Supporters of the Lisbon Treaty in Europe say that these two posts will allow the European Union to speak with one, clearer voice. Will China now hear the EU more clearly?” Shi: “This is a very interesting question. For a long time we know about EU integration, as it is integrating very closely… We want to hear it with one voice. But from the result of the selection of the President we think that maybe we have many voices and not one voice.” Euronews: “What does China want from the European Union in future?” Shi: “I think maybe we have to tackle, to solve some issues which are hard between us. For example, for Europeans to accept the Chinese market status quo, to lift the arms embargo on China and also to handle the Tibetan issue…all these are maybe obstacles to our cooperation.”