Xi Jinping’s European Tour Aims To Deepen Divisions Within The West

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Europe, which includes stops in France, Serbia and Hungary, is part of China’s efforts to deepen divisions within the West, according to Shen Dingli, a Shanghai-based international relations scholar. Xi’s tour, his first to Europe in five years, comes at a time when the European Union is considering imposing tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and green energy industries due to substantial subsidies that give Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage.

Xi’s outreach to Serbia and Hungary, both pro-Russia and large recipients of Chinese investment, is seen as an attempt to pull closer two European countries that have previously blocked EU statements criticizing China on human rights. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic expressed his honor at Xi’s visit and expects a free trade agreement between the two countries signed last October to come into force on July 1.

Chinese analysts suggest that Xi could use his stopover in Belgrade, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy there, to play up China’s anti-NATO agenda. China has amplified Russian efforts to blame the U.S. and NATO for escalating the Ukraine war by supplying arms to Kyiv.

The visit is expected to expose the internal divisions within the EU over trade relations with Beijing and the bloc’s positioning between the United States and China.