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Xi Jinping completes his European tour

Photo: Szilard Koszticsak MTI via Associated Press Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in Budapest, Hungary, May 8, 2024

Ludovic Ehret – Agence France-Presse in Budapest

Posted at 4:06 p.m.

  • Europe

From the gold of the Élysée to the Danube, from tensions with the European Union over trade and the war in Ukraine to the “bromance” with the Serbian and Hungarian leaders, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, completed his European tour on Friday.

A royal welcome

For his first traveling to Europe since 2019, he was entitled to every consideration.

In Paris first. Welcome Monday with fanfare at the Invalides, red carpet and banquet at the Élysée: Emmanuel Macron pampered his host, organizing the next day a “personal” getaway to a corner of the Pyrenees, where he spent his vacations as a child.

Snowflakes, traditional dances and local gifts: the sequence seemed to delight Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan.

À Belgrade then, the Chinese head of state was welcomed on the tarmac by his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, who multiplied the signs of “love” and respect”. »

Final stop, Hungary, China's best friend in the EU. On the program, military ceremony, gala dinner and long discussions at the Carmelite monastery, the residence of Prime Minister Viktor Orban with a view of the Danube.

“For Xi, it was a good trip” which put him back at the center of international attention, comments Bernhard Bartsch, specialist in Sino-European relations at the Merics think tank based in Berlin, referring to “a show of force” .

“In France, images in the media have conveyed the image to its public of a respected world leader,” he told AFP. Then in Serbia and Hungary, he signaled China's ambition to “change the international order”, by supporting “the two governments which pose the greatest challenge to European unity”.

Also read

  • Xi Jinping wants to “work with France” to “resolve the crisis” in Ukraine
  • Macron advocates “fair” trade rules and “decisive” coordination on Ukraine to Xi
  • After France, Xi Jinping continues his European tour in Serbia
  • In Hungary, Xi Jinping praises an exemplary “strategic partnership” in the EU

But “no breakthrough”

“Nothing to claim victory” however, according to analyst Ja Ian Chong, from the University of Singapore.

There has been “no breakthrough”, he comments, even though Emmanuel Macron was invited to Paris the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to display their common firmness in the face of trade tensions. To see if “this will ultimately lead to a clear and persistent commitment on the part of Europe not to take measures regarding accusations of overcapacity and unfair competition”.

In recent months, the EU has increased its investigations into Chinese state subsidies to several industrial sectors, particularly electric vehicles. In return, Beijing accuses Brussels of “protectionism”.

Likewise by celebrating its flourishing “global strategic partnership” with Hungary, not sure that it has convinced the others EU country for which “material gains” are “not always the priority”, notes Ja Ian Chong.

“This trip will have hardly contributed to improve Europe's confidence in Beijing,” confirms Rory Medcalf, director of the Security College at the Australian National University.

Especially since Mr. Xi avoided major capitals, such as Berlin and Brussels, preferring to go to Belgrade and Budapest, marginal voices in Europe, particularly on links with Moscow.

Status quo on the Ukrainian file

On this subject, he publicly called, together with Emmanuel Macron, “for a truce throughout the world on the occasion of the Paris Olympic Games” from July 26 to August 11.

But the Chinese president has not compromised his right, he says, to strengthen his country's relations, particularly commercial and military, with Russia.

< p>He thus called not to “smear” China on the Ukrainian issue, insisting on the “positive role” of Beijing in finding a peaceful solution, for example with an envoy who has just completed a new tour on Thursday diplomatic.

The Asian superpower, which presents itself as neutral, calls for respecting the territorial integrity of all countries — implying Ukraine included — but has never publicly condemned the Russian invasion.

In a sign of the strength of Beijing-Moscow ties, Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China later in May.

« Mr. Macron and Mrs. von der Leyen have certainly clearly put forward the European point of view, but nothing indicates that the Chinese position will fundamentally change”, underlines Mr. Bartsch.

Especially since the trip concluded with a satisfaction from Viktor Orban, himself close to the Kremlin, who praised China's crucial efforts to “promote peace in the region”.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116