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Global impact: Europe still seems divided over China after Xi Jinping's tour does little to tip the scales

Global impact: Europe still seems divided over China after Xi Jinping's tour does little to tip the scales


Although there were no large orders from Airbus, the second stage showed that even if ties with Western Europe deteriorate, China can find willing partners in major capitals, willing to defend its national interests while leaving difficult negotiations to Brussels.

Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed disgust at the idea of ​​imposing EU taxes on Chinese-made electric vehicles, while French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the country welcomed Chinese investment in the sector, an open secret that many believe guided Paris' support for the Brussels investigation. Xi was accompanied by Macron on a rainy track in southern France after ceding few or no major concessions, and made one of his toughest foreign visits since the pandemic largely unscathed.

From there it was on to Belgrade and Budapest, where the Chinese leader was feted without any tough questions about overcapacity and Ukraine. In Serbia and Hungary, China has been hosted on visits to critical infrastructure projects, which would be difficult to imagine today in the west of the continent given the security concerns raised by the capitals of this region. Xi has strengthened ties with both countries, recommending their relations with Beijing as a model for the rest of the continent.


Emmanuel Macron thanks Xi Jinping for his commitment not to sell arms to Russia

Emmanuel Macron thanks Xi Jinping for his commitment not to sell arms to Russia

Belgrade, he said, is an example for China's friendly relations with other European countries. In Hungary's capital Budapest, the EU and NATO member state are often criticized for their autocratic tendencies. Xi said China supports the country in play a bigger role in the EU and promote greater progress in China-EU relations. The message received in Europe was: play your cards right, and all this investment could be yours.

But either country is unlikely to play the role China wants. Hungary and Serbia have moved away from the European center of gravity in recent years, and many neighboring countries have withdrawn or softened their membership in the Beijing-backed 14+1 group, once a bloc of 17. Some of the hardest-line governments in Europe towards China, for its part, is present in the Baltic countries and Central Europe.

Hungary, in particular, has become an exception within the EU and NATO. He blocked several EU sanctions measures against Russia and publicly rejected the suggestion that Europe should examine its ties with Beijing, although he did not prevent such language from appearing in the conclusions official statements of the European Council.


Xi Jinping welcomes new chapter in China-Serbia relations as Belgrade supports his global vision

Xi Jinping welcomes new chapter in China-Serbia relations as Belgrade supports his global vision

Last week, Brussels officials insulted Viktor Orban's government after Budapest blocked a joint EU statement criticizing a controversial law on foreign agents in Georgia, the former Soviet state. Serbia, for its part, has been warned that it will have to abandon its free trade agreement upon joining the EU, a possibility that seems more distant than ever.

Xi's trip therefore succeeded in bringing China's two main European allies closer to his orbit, but should not overestimate the influence of either capital. It also showed that China can maintain cordial working relations with some of Europe's most powerful leaders.

But it’s clear that hard-line trade is here to stay. Although some capitals may disagree with Brussels' increasingly dramatic tactics, messages over the past week have shown that the strategy has been broadly supported by the continent's most powerful constituents.

60-second catch-up

Deep dives

Illustration: Lau Ka-kuen

China's electric vehicle overcapacity could put it on a political collision course with the United States

  • New U.S. tariffs targeting China's new energy sector are imminent, threatening to thwart export efforts to ease market oversupply.

  • Analysts explain what this means in the green and new energy sectors, and why the overcapacity scenario is not like that of China's past.

New sparks fly as risks associated with a capacity overflow in China's electric vehicle (EV) industry have ratcheted up tension between Beijing and the West, intensifying friction and bringing back the ghosts of the trade past.

With demand unleashed amid Beijing's political blessings to accelerate the green transition in recent years, the electric vehicle sector and other green industries have seen a steady increase in capacity, widely seen as the cutting edge. iceberg of high-tech manufacturing in China.

Photo: German Embassy in Beijing

Competition, Ukraine, arrests: interview with the German ambassador to China

  • The lack of a level playing field is an underlying problem of overcapacity and healthy competition will lead to innovation, Berlin's representative in Beijing said.

  • In a lengthy interview, the ambassador shares her thoughts on the relationship between the two countries, from differences to common ground

Patricia Flor, Germany's ambassador to China, speaks to the Post following Chancellor Olaf Scholz's crucial visit to China in April. The conversation delves deeper into the range of common understandings and points of contention between the two countries, including overcapacity, Ukraine, climate change and the sensitive topic of espionage arrests.

Chancellor Olaf Scholzs visit to China sparked many discussions. Some said it was a great success while others critical him for not being tough enough on issues such as the war in Ukraine. What do you think both parties achieved from this trip?
Illustration: Henry Wong

Xi banks on Hungary and Serbia amid growing tensions between China and Europe

  • The meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vui is expected to be heavy with symbolism as it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy.

  • Hungary offers another safe destination as the most pro-China voice in the EU and NATO under the leadership of Viktor Orbans.

When China rolled out the red carpet for foreign leaders during its Belt and Road Forum last October, the Serbian and Hungarian leaders were the only two European names on the guest list.
Photo: AFP

Ties fray as information gap widens between foreign companies in China and their headquarters abroad

  • More and more multinationals are experiencing decoupling of their China-based operations, hampering their investment plans, according to a new survey by the EU Chamber of Commerce.

  • Economic analysts explain why the shortage of expats could be behind the recent drop in foreign direct investment in China.

In the 16 months since Beijing reopened its doors and began rolling out the red carpet for global business leaders to conduct on-the-ground assessments after three years of strict coronavirus lockdowns, some Lingering scars failed to fade while new cuts were still applied. tarnished China's attractiveness to multinationals.

The widening information gap and more aggressive de-risking maneuvers with historically strong trading partners have compounded a worrying sense of hesitancy among foreign companies and businesspeople to invest more on Chinese soil.

Photo: Getty Images

All-time low: EU Chamber of Commerce in China finds sentiment has collapsed

  • The annual business confidence survey of European companies operating in China paints a picture of a bleak economic outlook, with unprecedented levels of pessimism triggering a negative cycle.

  • The findings suggest that China is no longer the obvious choice for everyone, while regions like Southeast Asia and India are becoming increasingly attractive.

Pessimism about investment prospects in China is weighing increasingly heavily on European companies amid economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, a leading foreign business association has warned, reiterating its calls for Beijing to it is taking concrete steps to restore business confidence.

European companies are more hesitant to expand their investments in China and continue to consider opportunities in other regions such as Southeast Asia and India, the European Union Chamber of Commerce said on Friday. China.

Photo: Xinhua

Chinese leaders' visit to Serbia timed to increase tensions: US official

  • Xi's arrival and published remarks in Serbia coincided with the 25th anniversary of the US airstrike that killed three Chinese journalists

  • The timely remarks underscore the close ties between Beijing and Serbia since they sided with the former Yugoslavia against NATO's air campaign in the 1990s.

Chinese President Xi JinpingThe visit to Serbia on the 25th anniversary of NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was timed to increase tensions with the West, a senior US official said.
Xi landed in the Serbian capital on Tuesday as part of a visit in three stages from Europe, his first visit to the continent since 2019.
Photo: Bloomberg

European companies, wary of political pressure, give China the cold shoulder

  • European companies are less likely to finance or participate in infrastructure projects with China, concerned about their association with the Belt and Road Initiative.

  • Changing political winds and disagreements over methods have reduced interest in cooperation with Chinese partners, although some still see promise.

Although some European multinational companies still see promise in projects aligned with China's Belt and Road Initiative, tapping into this potential is more difficult than 10 years ago thanks to deep geopolitical complications and fundamental differences of opinion about how best to build infrastructure.

Duisport, the German operator of Europe's largest inland hub for maritime and land transport, has invested US$30 million in a cross-border rail hub in Chongqing, an important logistics node for the Global Strategy initiative. China aiming to improve regional connectivity through infrastructure.

Global Impact is a weekly newsletter featuring a news story originating in China with significant macroeconomic impact for our news readers around the world.




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