BEIJING, May 20 (UPI) -- China says it will send another purchasing mission to Europe, a sign of its growing reliance on the European Union for trade.
Premier Wen Jiabao, who led his country at the 11th China-EU summit in Prague Wednesday, announced the mission's trip as a follow-up to a similar delegation that went to Europe in February and produced $15 billion in deals, China Daily reported.
"I announce that China will send another purchasing delegation to Europe soon to increase imports from Europe," Wen told reporters in Prague after the summit.
The summit received extensive coverage in the official Chinese media. The meeting came at a time when the Communist giant, with its economic clout, seeks to play a more dominant role in world finance and develop EU for growth of its exports even as the U.S. dollar faces increasing challenges to its role as the leading world currency.
The summit was originally scheduled to be held in France in December but was put off after French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama over objections from Beijing.
Wen said China is ready to work with the EU "to further promote mutual investments, enhance cooperation in small- and medium-sized enterprises, trade facilitation, science and technology, transportation and post, in an attempt to fight all forms of trade and investment protectionism." He urged EU to loosen restrictions on export of hi-tech products.
The EU is now China's largest trading partner with bilateral trade topping $400 billion last year.