Wen Jiabao

Little progress expected on wen's european visit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 September, 2006, 12:00am

Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Europe is unlikely to achieve anything substantial, with an arms embargo breakthrough unlikely, according to analysts.

Kerry Brown, an associate fellow of the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, said that despite Beijing's latest appeal yesterday to lift the 17-year-old embargo, a central issue in the China-Europe relationship, the efforts were unlikely to bear fruit because of factors such as opposition from the United States.

Michael Yahuda, a fellow with the US Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, said Europe was not ready to lift the embargo.

'On technical grounds, they would have to prepare a guideline, and they haven't finished it .... What the Chinese are doing is to assure them that they've not forgotten,' Professor Yahuda said.

Mr Wen will be attending the China-EU summit and the sixth Asia-Europe Meeting in Helsinki from Saturday and Monday.

There, the premier is expected to discuss international issues such as the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East when he meets European leaders.

Dr Brown said the summits had somehow slipped into being a formality rather than an arena for achieving substantial gains.

'There is a kind of frustration about how far these talks have gone and what exactly is being achieved,' he said.

Professor Yahuda said trade issues discussed would include tariffs on textiles.

After Helsinki, Mr Wen heads to Tajikistan, where two days of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation meetings are expected to focus mainly on economic co-operation.Kristine Kwok