The European Union has kicked off a multi-million-dollar PR hunt to improve its relationship with China and increase its clout on the global stage.
The body has launched an agency search worth more than $5.9 million (£3.8 million) to deepen the “political, economic, and cultural links between the two regions.”
The document seen by PRWeek UK reveals that the EU is looking for a “more assertive” promotion of its values and policies, as well as highlighting its importance as a partner and making it more relevant as a global player.
More details of the tender will emerge next month.
The successful agency will provide PR expertise on areas such as marketing, branding, event management, and social media.
The move comes after trade between China and the EU suffered its first annual drop in three years in 2012, falling 3.7% to more than $541.8 billion (£346 billion).
Leading EU trade officials met a delegation from China's ministry of commerce last week in an attempt to find a compromise on a range of issues, including tensions over the price of Chinese telecommunications companies' exports to Europe.
Last month, Peter Mandelson, who spent four years as Britain's EU trade commissioner, warned the EU against showing “more militancy” towards China.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao is expected to hand over to Li Keqiang this year after a decade in the role.
Separately, The Daily Telegraph claimed last week that work on building the image of the EU within member states was also taking place ahead of and during European elections in June 2014.
The EU's media analysis budget is set to rise by $2.6 million (£1.7 million), it claimed, with a particular focus on countries that had seen a rise in euroscepticism.
An increase in spending on promoting the EU as a coherent whole rather than through its member states was much needed, according to one high-level agency official, who added that the overall EU communications budget is “pathetic.”
An EU spokesman declined to comment on the China agency search.
This article originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister title of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.