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Baroness Ashton visits China to discuss the Eurozone crisis and security

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo Photo: Reuters

I am in State Villa number 12, not far from Tiananmen Square, where Baroness Ashton is meeting with Dai Bingguo, State Councillor, China's top diplomat.

Opulent surroundings, table being set for lunch in the banquet hall in the adjoining room.

We are waiting for a press conference, although conference is perhaps stretching it.

The Chinese have banned any questions, according to an EU diplomat. Why? They don't want to talk publicly about anything at this sensitive time, I'm discreetly told.

Sensitive time? That refers to the leadership handover scheduled for October or November this year which has been overshadowed by the Bo Xilai scandal and internal power struggles.

Also, Baroness Ashton will raise the subject of Human Rights, as all Western leaders do when they come on official visits.

The Chinese don't want any journalists raising questions about Tibet or forced abortions for example.

So although Baroness Ashton represents the electorates of 27 countries we will not be able to ask her a question as she visits the world's second largest economy and emerging super power.

Not quite the democratic openness the EU promotes.

Slowdown of the world's second largest economy

Diesel consumption in China down by 10% in June compared with same month last year, according to leading economist. Another revealing indication of slowdown in China.

Second quarter GDP figures out this week expected to be lowest for some years.