There’s a careful plan behind Xi’s European tour — RT World News

China wants to maintain and strengthen its foothold in and around the EU, and is investing diplomatic efforts where it is worth it.

by Timur FomenkoPolitical analyst

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a state visit to Europe. On his first trip to the European Union since 2019, he visited France and Hungary and concluded his tour in Serbia.

The trip comes at a pivotal moment, as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tries to turn the EU establishment against China, after dozens of investigations into Chinese products began in recent weeks. Likewise, the United States aggressively intensified its rhetoric accusing Beijing of complicity in the Ukrainian conflict, which was naturally aimed at undermining Xi's credibility during his trip.

Despite von der Leyden's blatant pro-American bias, it is quite clear that the loyalty of EU countries has become the subject of a battle between Washington and Beijing for influence in the emerging geopolitical conflict. Although the EU is of course theoretically allied with the United States, through its dominance of institutions such as NATO, China's foreign policy has for many years now been focused on trying to exert all its influence to prevent the EU from fully aligning itself with Washington's goal. Containing China. Beijing seeks instead to maintain open economic relations with the continent. To this end, China has devoted an intense diplomatic effort to Europe, an effort that it does not see as being worth making towards the United States, or even the United Kingdom.

Continental Europe is a mixed bag, and depending on the current political situation there are some countries that are pro-China, and others that are not (such as the Baltics), and thus China sees it as important to maintain a stronghold of support where it can. As a result, Xi devoted his visit to three countries currently supportive of Beijing: France and Hungary inside the European Union and Serbia outside the bloc. First, France is a country allied with the West and has always been known for its presence there “Maverick” Foreign policy derived from its position as a former empire in its own right. Emmanuel Macron in particular has always been keen to go against the grain, and has continued to engage with Beijing, even visiting China himself last year.

Traditionally, the EU country most enthusiastic about China is actually Germany, and this remains evident, for example in the visit of Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Beijing several weeks ago. However, German policy has become an internal tug of war over China, with the Foreign Ministry controlled by Annalena Baerbock, a neoconservative, who has tried to undermine relations with Beijing. This has of course been met with resistance from the German industry lobby, while US-funded think tanks are also trying to undermine German relations with China as best they can. As a result, it is not politically expedient for Xi to visit Germany, and he therefore chose France, where opinions seem more comfortable with its presence. “Maverick” Role.

His second destination, Hungary, under the leadership of Viktor Orbán, has gained status as the most pro-Beijing country in the entire European Union. Orban pursues a more rebellious foreign policy and also seeks healthy relations with Russia. However, its small size means it cannot guide the agenda of the entire bloc. Despite this, Budapest is a very important partner for Beijing because it acts as a gateway for Chinese investments and other projects to amplify themselves on the continent when doors are closed elsewhere. Such as building an overseas campus for Fudan University, or a Chinese electric car factory, which is crucial if the committee exercises the threat of tariffs.

But not only that, but Hungary occupies a strategic location in central Europe above the Balkan region, which is the end of the Chinese economic corridor that begins with the port it owns in Piraeus, Greece. Between Greece and Hungary lies Serbia. Although Serbia is not part of the European Union, it is a very important country in the Balkans and has tense relations with the West due to NATO's massive bombing campaign against it in the 1990s.

It is a country that hates the West, but it does not have the strength to resist directly as it faces pressure to integrate into the European Union and the issue of sovereignty over Kosovo. As a result, Serbia's well-being depends on its ability to establish relationships with external powers such as Russia and China to secure its geopolitical influence.

Therefore, for China, Serbia becomes another focus point, or a safe haven, to extend its influence over Europe. Since the conflict in Ukraine began, China has taken a subtle stance of opposing the expansion of US-led Western institutions, recognizing them as an instrument of hegemony to be used against it. As a result, strengthening ties with Belgrade has become part of Beijing's efforts to maintain its foothold on the continent, both politically and economically – it has established it as a trade corridor taking advantage of its role as part of the Balkan Corridor.

Hence, it is said that Xi will try to improve relations with Serbia. After all, it is a place where China can invest, and thus sell its products to Europe, without the interference of the European Union and NATO. It is also hoped that Serbia will eventually join BRICS.

Thus, while Xi's visit to France, one of the EU's leading countries, is intended to ensure that the bloc does not unite against Beijing, his visit to Serbia and Hungary is strategic in that it is designed to use them as showcase points to ensure that China's trade relations with Europe can be effective. . She is supported amid resistance by powerful individuals such as Ursula von der Leyen.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of RT.

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