China’s vice premier Li Keqiang was in Brussels on Thursday to talk trade, but the two day visit to the EU capital has been overshadowed by a ban on all media questions. The EU Commission insisted it was not to blame for the press gag, indicating it was China that had demanded the restrictions. Chinese officials said the decision was based purely on custom.
Nevertheless, the trip coincides with the diplomatic fallout over Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. Despite the timing, Pierre Defraigne, from the College of Europe Foundation, says for both sides trade remains the top priority.
‘‘I imagine this trip is somewhat of an initiation for the vice premier. Given the internal political difficulties going on in the Chinese Communist party at the moment with the power handover, it could be said this visit comes at a politically awkward time. I suppose that’s why he’s being extremely cautious and discrete.
Along with trade, EU and Chinese leaders are expected to discuss energy and the tricky issue of Europe’s Emission Trading Scheme, something Beijing opposes.