China’s Xi Jinping Visiting Europe

Written by | Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

China’s leader Xi Jinping commenced his official stay in the European Union during which he is to hold negotiations with the EU28’s top officials. It is for the first time that a Chinese President visits the EU capital. Xi Jinping is expected to meet a number of high-profile EU personalities ranging from European Council President Herman Van Rompuy through European Parliament boss Martin Schultz to Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President. As to the bullet points on his agenda, Ukraine is among the most urgent ones but both parties are mainly expected to elaborate on their mutual trade ties. EU and China trade more than a billion euros every day so economic matters are likely to rule Xi Jinping’s visit.
Nonetheless, his stay in Brussels is going to be accompanied by a series of protests organized by human rights activists. Protesters have gathered in front of the EU institutions to call for freedom for imprisoned dissidents, more rights to ethnic minorities and especially Tibetans. According to Lotte Leich of Human Rights Watch, the EU needs to stand together not only on Europe-wide trade agreements but also on its principles and values. In his opinion, Brussels should send China a vivid message of the importance of human rights for the EU28.
Except for Xi Jinping’s visit to Brussels, the EU’s capital city, he will also hold bilateral talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. Today, he is also visiting the biggest Chinese-owned firm in Belgium – Volvo – in Ghent. The carmaker company was bought by the company Geely based in Hangzhou. Mr Di Rupo is hoping that the Chinese visit will yield more investments as so far there has been little Chinese interest in the country despite the growing volume of mutual trade. Belgium wants to work hard on its brand of a “gateway to Europe” and thus diversify Beijing’s investments in Europe, which are to a great extent situated in Germany and France.

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