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Xi's Europe visit expected to bolster ties
China Daily
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Xi's Europe visit expected to bolster ties

President Xi Jinping's upcoming state visits to France, Serbia and Hungary are expected to open new chapters of solidarity and cooperation between China and the three European countries, while injecting fresh impetus into the nation's ties with the European Union, said officials and analysts.

Xi, making his first trip to Europe in five years, will visit the three countries between May 5 and 10 at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, according to China's Foreign Ministry.

Lin Jian, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that the upcoming trip will serve to bolster bilateral relations, promote the overall development of China-EU ties, and strengthen global peace and development.

Xi's visit to France will come as both nations celebrate the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties this year, and one year after the Chinese president hosted President Macron in Beijing and Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

During the upcoming visit, Xi will hold talks with Macron to exchange views on bilateral ties and China-EU relations, and the two heads of states will meet outside of Paris for further in-depth interactions, according to Lin.

"China-France relations have long been at the forefront of relations between China and the West," Lin said, adding that the upcoming trip will hold significant importance for the continuation and advancement of the relationship.

Beijing aims to work with Paris in further consolidating political mutual trust, strengthening unity and cooperation, elevating the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights, and injecting new vitality into the healthy and stable development of China-Europe relations, he said.

France is China's third-largest trading partner and third-largest source of actual investment within the EU, while China is France's largest trading partner in Asia and the seventh-largest globally, according to the ministry.

Ding Chun, director of Fudan University's Center for European Studies, said that stronger coordination and collaboration between China and France, a major country that has long upheld strategic autonomy, will hold implications far beyond the bilateral ties.

"The enhancing of ties between Beijing and Paris will serve as a model for efforts to build up China's ties with other major countries and the EU," he said.

He added that there is broad room for China and France to tap into the potential for economic and trade cooperation, with both sides expected to continue building up people-to-people exchanges through events such as the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism this year.

The heightened coordination between China and France, which are both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, on global hot spot issues will be of great significance to global peace and stability, Ding added.

Lin, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, also highlighted the ironclad ties between China and Serbia, China's first comprehensive strategic partner in the Central and Eastern European region.

During the visit to Belgrade, Xi and Vucic will discuss elevating the position of China-Serbia relations, pointing the way for the future development of bilateral ties.

Beijing looks forward to working with Belgrade to take this visit as an opportunity to further consolidate the ironclad friendship, deepen political mutual trust, expand pragmatic cooperation, and embark on a new chapter in the history of bilateral relations, the spokesman added.

As for the trip to Hungary, Lin said that deepening the traditional friendship between Beijing and Budapest, which are celebrating the 75th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties this year, is in the common interest of both nations.

"This milestone visit will elevate bilateral relations to a new level, open a new chapter in China-Hungary friendly cooperation, and inject new vitality into the development of China-EU relations," Lin said.

Ding, from Fudan University, added that Serbia and Hungary both stand at the forefront of advancing Belt and Road cooperation with China.

The strengthening of ties between China and Hungary, which is set to take over the rotating EU presidency in July, will also serve to stabilize China-EU relations and enable the two sides to better manage their differences, he added.

China DailyGu Yetao

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