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Xi Jinping Starts Making Nice in Europe While People Worry About America’s Future Support

Chinese President Xi Jinping begins charm offensive in Europe amid growing uncertainty about future U.S. support for allies

Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on a significant trip to Europe, signaling an attempt to strengthen ties amidst a backdrop of uncertainty regarding Beijing’s growing influence and the evolving U.S.-China rivalry. The visit comes at a time when Europe grapples with various concerns, including the encroachment of subsidized Chinese electric vehicles into the market, alleged espionage activities by Chinese agents, and unease over China’s defense collaboration with Russia, particularly concerning the conflict in Ukraine.

Despite these challenges, the economic interdependence between Europe and China remains robust, with EU-China trade reaching staggering figures of 2.3 billion euros per day. Xi’s agenda includes rebuilding and deepening relations with European leaders, a task delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. His itinerary includes stops in France, Serbia, and Hungary, with each destination offering unique dynamics in terms of economic cooperation and geopolitical alignment.

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping (Credits: Foreign Policy)

Xi’s visit holds significant implications for European politics and international relations, with Washington closely monitoring for signs of European divergence from U.S. foreign policy objectives. Simultaneously, there is growing uncertainty within Europe regarding future American support for trans-Atlantic alliances, amplifying the importance of Xi’s engagements with European leaders.

Upon arrival in France, Xi was met with a mixture of official welcomes and protests, underscoring the complex nature of China-France relations. While French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal greeted Xi at Orly Airport, activists seized the opportunity to demand France’s intervention on issues such as Tibetan and Uyghur minority rights. Xi expressed hopes for strategic convergence between China and France, emphasizing stability amidst global turbulence.

The upcoming formal state visit with French President Emmanuel Macron and meetings with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are poised to address key issues, including fair trade policies and China’s role in influencing Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The EU’s investigation into Chinese subsidies and potential tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles further underscores the economic tensions between the two entities. Despite China’s claims of neutrality in the Ukraine conflict, its support for Russia’s military capabilities raises concerns and adds complexity to the geopolitical landscape.

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