BRUSSELS (AP) — Weeks after China’s President Xi Jinping won his third five-year term as president, he embarked on a path to staying in power for life. Nothing beats the one from Europe.
French President Emmanuel Macron made an official visit to Beijing last week, accompanied by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, just days after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Beerbock arrived in the northeastern port city of Tianjin on Thursday after being visited by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in November. The European Union’s head of foreign policy, Josep Borrell, who was also supposed to be in China this week, tested positive for COVID-19.
For the 27-nation trade bloc, the reasons for heading to China are clear.
As an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Xi can play a key role in ending the war in Ukraine. The conflict has dragged on for more than a year, driving up energy prices and further hurting an economy struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Europeans want Xi’s help. They want him to talk to the president of Ukraine and the president of Russia, but they don’t see him as a key mediator. EU officials say it is unacceptable, he said.
The EU also fears that President Xi Jinping will supply weapons to Russia. They are particularly concerned about Putin’s plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The announcement came days after Xi and Putin met to cement an “unlimited friendship.”
Bearbock said war was “at the top of my agenda”. He praised Beijing for easing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, saying “China’s influence over Russia will affect relations with China as a whole in Europe.”
At the same time, the EU is deeply concerned about military escalation in the Taiwan Strait. China started the war game shortly after President Macron left. But unlike the United States, which has military and strategic interests in Taiwan, Europeans see the island primarily from an economic and democratic perspective.
The visit is therefore intended to reaffirm President Xi Jinping’s respect for the Chinese government’s control over all of China and to encourage calm. They also highlight the challenges facing the United States as it seeks to build a coalition of nations to increase pressure on Beijing over its expansionist policies.
A senior EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters on Wednesday about Mr Borrell’s sensitive plans for the visit, saying: “The important thing is that both in Europe and in China, we have every interest in maintaining the status quo. ‘ said. “For decades it has worked well in all respects.”
Beyond geopolitics is business. The EU and China traded €2.3 billion ($2.5 billion) worth of trade each day last year, and European countries don’t want to risk that. But the EU’s trade deficit has more than tripled over the past decade and he wants to level the playing field for businesses.
China is also desperate to restrict imports of vital resources such as rare earth minerals and high-tech parts from China.
It sets the line, and China is adept at divide-and-conquer politics.
Over the past two decades, Beijing has used its economic clout to alienate France, Germany and other allies from the United States on issues ranging from military security and trade to human rights and Taiwan.
Beijing has repeatedly called for a “multipolar world,” citing China’s dissatisfaction with US domination of world affairs and the ruling Communist Party’s ambitions for China to become an international leader. ing.
China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang told reporters last month that “the United States’ understanding and positioning of China is a grave deviation, seeing China as a major enemy and the greatest geopolitical challenge.” rice field.
“China-European relations are not targeted, dependent or subject to third parties,” he said.
Mr Macron’s visit seems to show that Mr Hata’s view is more than just wishful thinking. Amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington, French leaders said it was important for Europe to maintain its “strategic autonomy”.
“Being a friend doesn’t mean you have to be a vassal,” Macron said Wednesday, repeating remarks from his trip that surprised some European partners. Just because we’re allies doesn’t mean we no longer have the right to think for ourselves.”
Such comments could strain relations with the US and expose divisions within the EU.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, without mentioning Mr Macron, warned that some countries are listening too late to the “alarm bells” for China.
“European leaders have been to Beijing, so I’ve been able to see this in the past few weeks,” Morawiecki said, adding, “I don’t really understand the idea of strategic autonomy.
Meanwhile, the White House has tried to downplay Macron’s remarks on Europe as “an independent pole in a multipolar world.”
I think European skepticism about Beijing is on the rise. U.S. officials point to recent Dutch decisions that restricted access to China’s advanced computer chip components and that Scholz publicly urged Xi Jinping not to supply weapons to Russia. .
Despite the differences in national focus, the EU’s strategy for China remains as it was set out in 2019: the Asian giant is a ‘partner, competitor and systemic rival’. . The purpose of the recent visit is to ensure President Xi Jinping’s commitment to peace, maintain fair trade flows and reduce Europe’s dependence on China for vital resources.
Contributions were made by Joe McDonald from Beijing, Aamer Madhani from Washington, Geir Moulson from Berlin, Vanessa Gera from Warsaw and Mike Corder from The Hague, Netherlands.
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