Xi’s European tour: red carpets, but ‘no breakthroughs’ on tensions

In recent months, the EU has stepped up its investigations into alleged unfair trade practices by China in different sectors, from solar panels to electric vehicle subsidies. Beijing has slammed the moves as “protectionism”.

While Xi flaunted China’s flourishing “global strategic partnership” with Hungary, it is unclear to what extent it has convinced other EU countries for whom “material gains… may not always be the top goal,” notes Chong.

“The trip has done little or nothing to improve Europe’s strategic confidence or trust in Beijing direction,” said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University.

It did not help that Xi chose to visit Belgrade and Budapest, while avoiding other major capitals such as Berlin and Brussels, thus potentially “accentuating the message that NATO and China are security rivals, even adversaries”.

During the visit to France, Macron thanked Xi for backing his idea of a truce in all conflicts, including Ukraine, during the Paris Olympics this summer.


But the Chinese leader — who is due to host Russian President Vladimir Putin in China later this month — did not appear to be willing to compromise on his relations with Moscow.

Xi also warned against using the Ukraine crisis “to cast blame, smear a third country and incite a new Cold War”, insisting that Beijing was playing a “positive role” in trying to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Some European countries are concerned that while officially neutral over the Ukraine conflict, China is essentially backing Russia, which is using Chinese machine tools in arms production.

“Macron and von der Leyen have clearly explained the European position to Xi on Russia’s war against Ukraine, but there are no signs that the Chinese position will fundamentally change,” said Bartsch.

Especially since the trip ended with Orban, who is also close to the Kremlin and who praised China’s crucial efforts to “promote peace in the region”.

SOURCE: CNA (Channelnewsasia.com) RSS Latest News   (go to source)
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