A British cabinet minister refused to lobby for trade so she could focus on education issues on a visit to China. International Development Secretary Clare Short has drawn criticism from British politicians after saying she had not wanted to distract mainland officials from her mission to raise education levels on the mainland. Ms Short said: 'Within my brief there was some suggestion that I might raise the odd contract that was around. I didn't bother. I didn't consider it my duty to talk to representatives of the Chinese Government about individual transactions that some companies might be engaging in.' Ms Short said it was up to China to decide for itself which foreign companies it would do business with. Ms Short said her visit had been concerned with investigating opportunities for increasing access to education in provinces, not with trade. The opposition Conservative Party has attacked Ms Short for not using her four-day visit in June to push for greater access by British firms to Chinese markets.