China and EU: Indispensable Partners for Global Prosperity

Chinese President Xi Jinping will embark on a European tour from May 6-7, 2024, marking his first visit to the region in five years. Xi will meet with European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, to strengthen China-EU relations and discuss trade, investment, and sustainability.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
New Update
China and EU: Indispensable Partners for Global Prosperity

China and EU: Indispensable Partners for Global Prosperity

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to embark on a European tour from May 6-7, 2024, marking his first visit to the region in five years. The trip comes as China seeks to rebuild its foreign relations and reaffirm thestrong foundationsof its partnership with the European Union. Despite recent geopolitical shifts, China and the EU remain united by shared goals, including combating climate change, driving sustainable development, and co-leading an open world economy.

Why this matters: The strengthening of China-EU relations has significant implications for the global economy and climate governance, as the two powers can leverage their combined influence to drive sustainable development and mitigate environmental devastation. A robust partnership between China and the EU can also counterbalance the influence of other global powers, promoting a more multipolar world order.

China retained its position as the EU's foremosttrading partnerin 2023, with total bilateral commerce exceeding $847 billion (€930 billion). The average daily transactions between China and the EU amount to $2.4 billion (€2.6 billion). This interdependent economic architecture is crucial for both sides. China's transition towards higher-value industries and consumption-led growth relies on Europe as a comprehensive strategic partner, providing critical technologies, machinery, and premium goods. The EU, in turn, relies on China as an irreplaceable production base and source of competitively priced components, electronics, and industrial building blocks.

During his visit, President Xi aims to position the EU as a pivotal strategic bulwark against Washington's escalating containment agenda by strengthening economic diplomacy with Europe. By elevating the unassailability of Sino-European economic interdependence, China can effectively nullify any possibility of the EU tilting towards outright participation in America's techno-nationalist offensives. Xi will launch focused initiatives to stimulate EU export growth through asymmetric measures, such as unilaterally liberalizing markets for premium European machinery, vehicles, and consumer goods in China. Beijing has major leverage to relieve European cost-of-living pressures by removing non-tariff barriers or expediting approval processes for key job-creating sectors.

The China-EU partnership on sustainability and environmental governance is another foundational pillar, with both powers consistently shouldering greater collective responsibility for mitigating environmental devastation and transitioning mankind onto a greener developmental trajectory. The 2021 EU-China Joint Statement on Climate Change committed Brussels and Beijing to accelerating their domestic emissions reduction efforts and cooperating closely to address this global existential challenge. This partnership has led to concrete manifestations, such as scientific research missions analyzing polar ice cap degradation, collaborative green technology initiatives, and innovations like hydrogen fuel cell deployment and next-generation energy storage capabilities. Beijing has emerged as the world's single largest supplier of solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles, linchpins of the renewable tech toolkit enabling Europe's successful energy transition.

During his European tour, Xi will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, who has been stressing the idea of European strategic autonomy from the U.S. The two leaders will likely discuss Ukraine,tradeand investment, as well as China's Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to build billions of dollars of infrastructure across Asia, Africa, and beyond. Xi will then visit Hungary and Serbia, both seen as China-friendly nations close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hungary has deepened its economic ties with China, with the proliferation of Chinese electric vehicle battery factories across the country, including a nearly 550-acre, 7.3 billion euro plant, the country's largest ever foreign direct investment. Serbia has a long history of friendship with China, particularly since 1999 when NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

Xi's European tour marks a significant opportunity to strengthen the China-EU partnership and promote global prosperity. With China and the EU standing as indispensable partners, their cooperation on economic growth, sustainability, and innovation will shape the future trajectory of the world. As Macron has noted, France and Europe will not necessarily always align with the U.S. in foreign policy, underscoring the strategic autonomy and multilateral approach that characterizes theChina-EU relationshipin an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Europe from May 6-7, 2024, first trip in 5 years.
  • China-EU partnership crucial for global economy, climate governance, and multipolar world order.
  • China retained its position as EU's top trading partner in 2023, with $847 billion in bilateral commerce.
  • Xi aims to strengthen economic diplomacy with Europe, counterbalancing US influence and promoting sustainability.
  • China-EU cooperation on climate change, innovation, and economic growth will shape the future global trajectory.