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Xi’s first Europe visit in 5 years aims to rebuild ties, starting in France – Times of India



PARIS: Chinese Prez Xi Jinping kicked off a three-country trip to Europe on Sunday with the continent divided over how to deal with Beijing’s growing power and the US-China rivalry. On his first visit to Europe in five years, Xi appears intent on seizing opportunities to loosen the continent’s bonds with the United States.
European carmakers are losing ground to subsidised Chinese electric vehicles.Diplomats fret about alleged Chinese spies in European capitals. And China’s continued defence trade with Russia worries the continent. But Europe and China have hefty economic ties – EU-China trade is estimated at ₹2.3 billion per day – and Xi appears determined to rebuild ties after a prolonged absence due to pandemic.
Xi started Sunday in France, whose prez wants Europe to have more economic and strategic independence from other world powers. Then the he heads to Serbia and Hungary, both seen as China-friendly and close to Russia. Xi’s trip will be closely watched in Washington for signs of diminishing European support for its key foreign policy goals. At the same time, there’s increasing uncertainty in Europe about future US support for trans-Atlantic allies.
Xi was greeted at Paris’ Orly Airport by French PM Gabriel Attal – and by protests by groups demanding that France pressure China to respect Tibetan and Uighur minority rights. Activists seeking a free Tibet attempted to unfurl a banner Saturday beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and protested in the French capital around the same time as Xi’s plane landed. After arriving, Xi said he hoped the visit would bring “strategic convergence” between China and France.
On Monday, French Prez Macron will treat Xi to formal honours of a full state visit. They will also meet with European Commission PrezUrsula von der Leyen, who is expected to join Macron in pushing for fairer trade policies and for China to use its leverage with Russia to push it toward ending the war in Ukraine. AP & NYT

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