Xi’s Europe Visit: Testing Bonds and Shifting Power Dynamics

Xi Jinping’s European Tour: A Strategic Play?

In a bid to loosen Europe’s ties with the United States, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, embarks on his first European tour in five years. This strategic move is seen as an attempt to forge a world free from American dominance. Xi has chosen to visit France, Serbia, and Hungary, countries that have expressed dissatisfaction with America’s postwar world order and see China as a necessary counterbalance.

China, Europe, and the United States: A Delicate Balancing Act

Xi’s visit will test Europe’s delicate balancing act between China and the United States. The Chinese leader’s visit, amidst tensions with Europe over China’s ‘no limits’ support for Russia, its surveillance state, and alleged espionage activities, is viewed as a pragmatic rapprochement attempt. This strategic move is likely to be perceived in Washington as an attempt to divide Western allies.

Xi’s Visit to Serbia: A Historic Context

Xi’s visit to Serbia coincides with the 25th anniversary of the deadly NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo war. This tragic incident, which resulted in the death of three Chinese journalists and sparked protests around the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, continues to be commemorated by the Chinese government as a symbol of Western hypocrisy and bullying.

Europe’s Stance on China: A Complex Equation

The 27-member European Union defines China as “a partner for cooperation, an economic competitor, and a systemic rival.” This complex stance reflects the continent’s struggle to balance economic opportunities in China with national security, cybersecurity risk, and economic risk to various industries. Xi’s visit is seen as an attempt to steer Europe’s stance towards a more cooperative relationship.

France: Xi’s First and Key Stop

Xi’s first and most crucial stop is France, where President Emmanuel Macron has advocated for Europe to maintain ‘strategic autonomy’ and resist becoming a ‘vassal of the United States.’ This view aligns with Xi’s vision of a multipolar world free of blocs and the ‘Cold War mentality.’

China’s Growing Influence in Serbia and Hungary

Xi’s visit to Serbia and Hungary reflects China’s growing influence in these countries. Both nations, which express resistance to American power, see China as a valuable ally and economic partner. However, this growing alliance also highlights the significant differences between Europe and Beijing, especially in the context of the latter’s escalating economy.

Can Europe Forge a United Front?

As Xi’s visit stirs the geopolitical landscape, the question arises whether Europe can forge a united front. Differences within the European Union, particularly among frontline states like Poland and the Baltic States, make this a challenging task. These countries, which bear the brunt of Russia’s aggression, are the most attached to the alliance with the United States and the most wary of China.

Conclusion: A Strategic Opportunity?

Xi’s European tour comes at a time of shifting global dynamics. While it presents a strategic opportunity for China to expand its influence, it also poses significant challenges for Europe. The tour is a critical test for Europe’s ability to balance its relations with China and the United States. However, despite the complexities, leaders of France, Serbia, and Hungary seem to embrace China’s vision of a world free from bloc confrontation.