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The European desire for autonomy from the USA marks the meeting between Macron and Xi Jinping

The European desire for autonomy from the USA marks the meeting between Macron and Xi Jinping
The European desire for autonomy from the USA marks the meeting between Macron and Xi Jinping


The interview with Macron shows that the European Union seeks to establish a relationship with China based on its own interests, which do not necessarily coincide with those of the United States.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited three European countries, France, Serbia and Hungary, in May after five years without setting foot on European soil. The visit came at a particularly important time, marked by increased pressure from the United States to isolate China from Western supply chains and markets, namely the United States, the European Union and the Japan, and by increased tensions between the European Union and Russia are responsible for the war in Ukraine.

The trip began in France, where Xi Jinping was received with great deference by French President Emmanuel Macron, clearly demonstrating the respect France has for China and the desire to maintain good bilateral relations. The affair unfolded in Serbia, which is not a member of the European Union or NATO, and ended in Hungary, whose prime minister is China's most important ally in the within the European bloc.

On the agenda of the meeting with the French president were trade issues and the war in Ukraine. The most sensitive trade issue at the moment concerns electric cars. Chinese electric cars pay a tariff of 10% in the European Union and compete directly with French manufacturers (Renault, Peugeot) who produce the cheapest electric cars on the European market, on which they depend almost entirely.

The Germans, very dependent on the Chinese market, preferred that the French resume the fight. According to Folha de S. Paulo (15/3), more than one in three Mercedes-Benz cars is sold in China, while the country accounted for 40% of Volkswagen car sales last year. The EU used a new anti-subsidy law to launch an investigation into electric vehicle imports from China. China, in turn, has threatened to overtax European brandy, the most famous of which is French cognac.

The visit to Serbia took place in the context of commemorating 25 years of the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by the United States in 1999, during the war that led to the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia . The visit to Hungary was an obligatory stop, as this country is the main ally of China and Russia within NATO and the European Union. Thanks to Hungary's veto power in the European Union and NATO, where many decisions must be taken unanimously, several more radical measures against Russia and China have been blocked.

Serbia and Hungary are two important allies of China on the European continent. In addition to Chinese partners in the Belt and Road project, which funds infrastructure projects, China is helping to build a high-speed rail link between Belgrade and the Hungarian capital, Budapest, with both countries, including member Hungary of the European Union. European Union, receive investments from Chinese automobile manufacturers who will be able, from the new factories in these two countries, to supply the European market, bypassing the barriers being discussed in Brussels to block the entry of Chinese electric vehicles into the European Union . walk.

The interview with Macron shows that the European Union seeks to establish a relationship with China based on its own interests, which do not necessarily coincide with those of the United States. Even if there are commercial tensions between the European bloc and China, it is not the spirit of rupture that is driving the discussions. As the Wall Street Journal points out (05/09/2024), European leaders tend to act cautiously with Beijing, not wanting to jeopardize ties with an important trading partner. A possible victory by Donald Trump in the US presidential elections next November, which would lead to an even greater protectionist escalation by the United States, would make the China-EU partnership even more important for Chinese and European businesses.

According to Financial Times analyst (07/05/2024) Gideon Rachman, China really wants to disrupt the unity of NATO (the Western military alliance) and the European Union (EU). Each of the countries Xi visits is seen as a potential lever to open a divide with the West. On a recent visit to Beijing, I found Chinese foreign policy experts fascinated by the French debate over the need for Europe to gain strategic autonomy from the United States. In a speech in Paris last month, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, said Europe should never be a vassal of the United States, which is also China's preferred language.




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