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Xi Jinping’s Strategic Move in Europe: Building Alliances While Challenging US Hegemony

During his six-day visit to Europe in May, Chinese President Xi Jinping returned after five years for his first post-pandemic tour, covering France, Serbia, and Hungary—representing western, central, and eastern Europe, respectively. This diplomatic outreach by Xi holds special significance as China commemorates 75 years since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, as well as Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Cai Qi, Director of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) General Office, Xi strategically chose these countries for their geopolitical and geo-economic importance, timed to align with broader strategic considerations.

Xi’s visit to France symbolizes China’s outreach to the European Union as a whole. While Germany, another pivotal EU member, was omitted—having already received a visit from the German Chancellor with a substantial business delegation in April—France holds particular significance. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations, Xi’s previous visits to France in 2014 and 2019 coincided with his tenure as General Secretary of the CPC and President during his first and second terms, respectively. This visit continues this tradition into Xi’s third term.

Unlike China’s relations with other Western powers, its ties with France are characterized by a unique and enduring friendship rooted in historical congruences. Xi described both countries during his visit as “representatives of Eastern and Western civilizations” with a longstanding history of mutual admiration. Several key figures of Communist China, such as Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, not only studied and worked in France but also shaped their ideological foundations there. Throughout the Cold War, France served as a crucial intermediary between Maoist China and the capitalist West. Notably, France established official diplomatic relations with China in 1964, preceding the United States by 15 years. Today, both countries hold permanent seats on the UN Security Council, underscoring the weight of their bilateral relations in the contemporary global landscape.

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