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May 05, 2024 / 20:33

Traveling far, wanting much

China needs EU and European partners for its economic development and ambitions in world politics and to deal successfully with the US.

China's President Xi Jinping travels to Europe for the first time in 5 years. He will visit France, Serbia, and Hungary from May 5 to 10. He doesn't visit the EU but will meet the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. Last year, the French president also let the European Commission president take part in his official visit to China. His aims were to demonstrate that he ostensibly has more capabilities to keep China in direct touch than the EU and not to let the EU be marginalized in France's diplomatic engagements with China. 

 French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing on April 6, 2023. Photo: AFP/VNA 

Serbia has always been a close political, economic, and trade partner in Europe for China. This bilateral relationship has become more and more strategic in recent years because Serbia decided to buy an increased amount of weapons and military equipment made by China. In addition, Serbia is a problematic partner for the EU and NATO in Europe. And all that is advantageous for China.

Like the EU, France is deeply engaged in trade disputes with China. However, Emmanuel Macron said when visiting China in 2023 that he would not blindly follow the US in crises, would increase his contact with Beijing, and would follow a different path than the US. That was exactly what China would like very much to hear from him.

Hungary is a member of the EU and NATO but often causes headaches and problems for them concerning their firm determination to support Ukraine in all aspects to defeat Russia in the current war between Russia and Ukraine, whatever it would take, as well as relating to their policies toward Russia. Just that is why Hungary is deliberately courted by China.

France, EU, NATO, and the US, too, are mostly fearing the scenario that China would militarily support Russia in warring with Ukraine and help Russia in undermining the West's sanctions against Russia. Therefore, they must and want to do their utmost to divide between China and Russia. Whenever they can and could, they always undertake charm offensives toward China.

China knows it well and has been making as much profit from it as possible. China needs EU and European partners for its economic development and world political ambitions and to successfully deal with the US. When visiting France, Serbia, and Hungary, China's President Xi Jinping increases pressure on the EU and courts EU is trying to divide the EU from the US. His most heavy trumps are China's might-be decisive role in finding political solutions for the war in Ukraine and the West's incapability to decouple itself from China. At present, China's strategic interest is not to create and increase pressure on Russia, which China publicly claims to have a "special relationship without limits" to end the war in Ukraine like the West wants China to do. The longer this war goes on, the more the West needs China to be on its side to be able to defeat Russia in Ukraine.

After five years, China's president travels to Europe again. He is traveling far aiming at wanting much in favor of enhancing China's world political roles and influences in Europe and not at seeking and making any compromises with the EU and the West.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Hanoi Times.