Xi Jinping Embarks On European Tour Amid Growing Global Tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping began his three-country European tour on Sunday as the continent grapples with internal divisions over how to approach Beijing’s increasing influence and the escalating U.S.-China rivalry. Xi’s trip, his first to Europe in five years, comes at a time when European automakers face stiff competition from subsidized Chinese electric vehicles and concerns mount over alleged Chinese espionage activities in European capitals.

The Chinese leader’s itinerary includes stops in France Serbia and Hungary, countries with varying degrees of receptivity to Chinese investment and ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. While France seeks to promote European economic and strategic autonomy, Serbia and Hungary have been major recipients of Chinese investment and are seen as more aligned with Beijing.

Xi’s visit will be closely monitored in Washington for indications of waning European support for key U.S. foreign policy objectives. Simultaneously, uncertainty looms over future U.S. commitment to its trans-Atlantic allies.

“Xi’s goal would be neutralising the EU’s economic security agenda, including its tariff threats, by exploiting internal differences,” said Mathieu Duchatel, senior fellow at the Institut Montaigne. “There’s a very strong divide and rule element. That’s not hidden but in plain sight.”