Where members of the European Union see the group's weekend enlargement as a potential hornet's nest of challenges to be carefully managed, the mainland looks upon the enlargement as an economic opportunity. The emphasis of Premier Wen Jiabao's 11-day visit will be trade, technology exchange and more trade. There will be pointed political questions awaiting Mr Wen, about the mainland's human rights record and the recent move to rule out universal suffrage for Hong Kong's 2007 and 2008 elections. But these will likely be overshadowed by discussions about deepening what for both sides is a fast-growing and increasingly crucial economic relationship. Mr Wen will be pushing for recognition of China as a full market economy and for the EU to lift its embargo on arms sales. It is not clear that he will get both, but he will certainly drive home the point that the mainland is ready to buy technology from Europe, whether it takes the form of arms, transport systems or equipment for building the power plants the country needs to maintain its present pace of development. Potential new markets for mainland goods and staging grounds for Chinese investment in Europe are major reasons why EU enlargement is of great interest to Beijing and why President Hu Jintao is expected to follow up later this year with visits to several eastern European countries. Still, there are worries on the EU side about intellectual property protection and the possibility that a pegged yuan exchange rate is hurting the EU's exports; these issues will come up, even if the emphasis is on expanding ties. In the political sphere, each side sees the other as an important counterweight to US influence on the world stage. The meetings may produce shared statements on how to provide Iraq with long-promised stability and sovereignty, as well as on putting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track. Thus, the bilateral relationship is one that both will seek to cultivate in the coming years - and one that could have a major influence on how the all-important United Nations' Security Council is reformed - but little movement should be expected from this, Mr Wen's maiden trip. As with state visits since the Hu and Wen team came into office more than a year ago, the spotlight will be on trade pacts and China's emergence from diplomatic isolation, in that order. At a time when those within Europe are constantly debating - and not always agreeing on - what the EU ought to stand for - Beijing will choose to engage with it primarily as an economic bloc. In the recent African tour, there were the oil and gas exploitation agreements. In Southeast Asia, there were free trade zone pacts. After his European sojourn, we can expect Mr Wen to return with a handful of agreements on development of tourism, technology and other trade ties.