Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tough talks ahead as China’s Xi Jinping touches down in Paris for European trip

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President Xi Jinping has arrived in France for his big trip to Europe – it’s been five years since his last visit and EU-Chinese relations have hit a rocky road.

There’s also been the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and now a global trade battle is brewing.

For President Xi, this European tour is as much about trying to get the relationship on an even keel as projecting Chinese power to the world.

France is first on the red carpet itinerary.

Xi Jinping is meeting President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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A guard of honour was waiting for President Xi at Orly airport. Pic: AP

 Xi Jinping arrives for a meeting with Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen  at the Elysee Palace.
Pic Reuters
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Mr Macron hosted the president at the Elysee Palace on Monday morning. Pic: Reuters

Russia will be a difficult issue for them all.

Europe and the US say China is sending “dual-use” items like semiconductors and machine tools to Russia, enabling it to continue to build weapons and wage war in Ukraine.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has put China on notice, saying if it does not “address the problem” the US will. China says it is free to trade with any country it chooses.

Pic: AP
Pic: AP
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Tibet and press freedom protests took place in Paris as the trip began. Pics: AP

Few people therefore expect any great breakthroughs on the Ukraine war from the Chinese president’s Euro tour.

On Tuesday, Mr Macron plans to take Xi to the Pyrenees, but a brewing trade war will also loom large over any mountain walks.

At the centre is China’s insatiable appetite for manufacturing electric vehicles.

Pic: Reuters
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China’s ability to make cheap EVs is causing concern in Europe. Pic: Reuters

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Its EV industry has caught up and overtaken the West.

It produces them at a scale and price that Europe’s big car producing countries, such as France and Germany, can’t compete with.

Ursula von der Leyen has accused China of “over-capacity”, sending EVs, batteries and solar panels to Europe at cut-throat prices.

China says the world needs its green energy technology and has warned Europe against “protectionism” and imposing tariffs on its products. There are tough talks ahead.

After France, President Xi is heading to Serbia and Hungary – both of which have a warm relationship with China and Russia.

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