I was in Paris yesterday for the fourth EU-China Round Table. These events, part of the EESC’s outreach activities (we have something similar with India), bring together representatives of organised civil society from both sides in pretty free and frank discussions on issues of mutual interest. This time a workshop on corporate responsibility was followed by sessions on trade and investment and recycling. I found the whole experience fascinating. The EU is China’s N° 1 trade partner and its primary source of imported technology, and the Chinese participants gave a strong general impression of wanting more structured dialogue in all areas of mutual interest. It was interesting to hear warnings on both sides about the dangers of creeping protectionism and the importance of better regulating the international financial markets. We were all entertained by the Chinese Ambassador to France, Mr Kong Quan, who, speaking in eloquent and witty French, explained how the EU-China relationship had changed fundamentally over the past ten years. The EU had previously dealt with a poor and underdeveloped country but one which was now more prosperous (and, my Economist this week tells me, whose economy will overtake the USA’s by 2030 and become a global military power by 2025). On the other hand, China had previously been dealing with 12 member states and now there were 27 and counting… In other words, it is not just China that is changing. Hence the importance on both sides to maintain a maximum number of structured dialogues.