Chinese President’s European Visit Highlights EU Divisions On Trade And Security

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Europe, his first in five years, is set to expose the continent’s internal rifts over trade relations with Beijing and the EU’s positioning between the United States and China.

As Xi prepares to visit France Serbia and Hungary, the European Union is considering imposing tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and green energy industries due to substantial subsidies that the bloc argues give Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage.

While China’s economy faces challenges and the U.S. market becomes increasingly closed to Chinese companies, the EU could potentially leverage its position. However, the bloc’s 27 member states lack a unified stance, weakening their ability to influence Chinese decision-making.

Overshadowing Xi’s visit are European concerns about China’s support for Russia’s wartime economy amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The Chinese leader’s stops in Serbia and Hungary, both seen as pro-Russia and significant recipients of Chinese investment, are viewed as an attempt to deepen divisions within the EU.

“Europe has quite a bit of leverage, but that leverage flies out the window if European lenders are sending different messages to Xi,” said Noah Barkin, a senior adviser at the Rhodium Group and close follower of EU-China relations.