Xi Jinping’s European Tour Aims To Neutralize EU’s Economic Security Agenda

As Chinese President Xi Jinping embarks on his first European tour in five years, his primary objective is to neutralize the European Union’s economic security agenda, including threats of tariffs, by exploiting internal differences among member states, according to Mathieu Duchatel, senior fellow at the Institut Montaigne.

Xi’s visit comes at a time when the EU is considering imposing tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and green energy industries due to massive subsidies that give Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage. The bloc’s 27 members, however, have struggled to agree on a common approach to address the trade imbalance with China.

French President Emmanuel Macron seeks a more aggressive EU stance on subsidies, warning that the bloc risks falling behind if it does not permit exemptions to its own competition rules. In contrast, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, while pressing Xi for better market access for German firms, has cautioned against the EU acting out of protectionist self-interest.

“There’s a very strong divide and rule element,” Duchatel said of China’s strategy towards Europe. “That’s not hidden but in plain sight.”

Xi’s choice of Serbia and Hungary for his tour is seen as an attempt to pull closer two European countries that are pro-Russia and large recipients of Chinese investment.