Europe’s High Representative is in China this week for strategic dialogue with its leaders. Catherine Ashton took time out for play in the ancient traditional village of Shanping, and brought EU giftboxes for the children.
Her tour is preparation for this year’s EU-China summit scheduled for October 6. The foreign affairs chief felt it was more important to come here than attend the Middle East peace talks relaunching this week.
Ashton said: “More than anything it is a contrast between… I have been to Shanghai in Beijing… being here [in Shanping] I can really see how much China is moving forward, but also, of course, how much there is still to do; to see and talk to the people here has been a great privilege.”
Europe sees China as its second-biggest trading partner after the US, and Europe’s fastest-growing export market.
However, disputes include EU complaints that Beijing is backtracking on pledges to ensure a level playing field for European firms doing business in China.