The European Union must upgrade its political dialogue with China and engage the country further, Chris Patten said on his second visit to the mainland as European Commissioner for External Relations. Hong Kong's last governor addressed a lunch at the European Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and poked fun at himself and his fractious ties with the Chinese leadership, but stressed the need for dialogue. 'To speak frankly,' he said with a weighty pause for laughter, 'China is not always an easy partner for the European Union or for you. 'But it is in our interests to work to solve problems and engage at all levels.' China had once heaped abuse on Mr Patten, calling him 'a sinner of a thousand years' during a confrontation over electoral reform in Hong Kong during his tenure as the last governor. Mr Patten said the EU must support a transition to an open society and push for human rights in China. This, he stressed, was not just his obsession or a European one, but a global issue. In a newly released position paper, the EU has redefined the goals of its dialogue with China and stressed the need for a better political dialogue to create the political will to implement agreements. Mr Patten said the deaths of 58 illegal immigrants in Dover was a tragic manifestation of the need for multilateral co-operation to fight cross-border crimes such as trafficking in people and drugs. He will discuss these areas in meetings with representatives of the National People's Congress and Chen Zhili, the Minister for Education. The EU is investing 110 million euros (HK$752 million) in human resources co-operation programmes with China. Mr Patten also met China's Foreign Trade Minister, Shi Guangsheng, and discussed China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Only a few technical problems remain to be solved and China could enter this year, but Mr Patten said it depended on the political will in China. He acknowledged frustration among European businessmen after the EU signed an agreement with China 12 months ago. He agreed there was room for doubts over how Beijing would comply with its obligations. 'We have to go on believing,' he said, but stressed the WTO remained the only real example of a global organisation with binding decisions over sovereign states. He said that when China joined, 'it will be a test for everyone, including the Chinese'. Mr Patten is also due to discuss foot-and-mouth disease and the resumption of poultry exports from China to the EU. He is due to launch an EU-China Village Governance Project which aims to promote village self-governance, and address a seminar on European law. A visit to Xian includes discussions on aviation co-operation and a visit to a Rolls Royce joint-venture operation. He will later join European and Asian foreign ministers in Beijing for the third Asia-Europe Meeting. Mr Patten said the EU wanted to make its voice heard in East Asia.