Despite the protests, China still manages to divide the European Union

Michel’s trip to meet Xi turns into a nightmare: the files of concern to Beijing are being run by the Commission, and the constant demonstrations are causing him problems. All in order to compete with Von der Leyen

That was the trip Charles Michel He desperately wanted to do. Now it has become a nightmare.” Like him Politician I filmed the European Council president’s visit to China to meet the leader on Thursday Xi Jinping.

Arguing about absence is not enough Ursula von der LeyenThe President of the European Commission, on this trip organized after the bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, and was canceled due to emergency meetings in the wake of the missiles that fell on Poland. Protests in China, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of the newly appointed CCP leader, mean Michel is the first Western leader to meet the leader.

The latter has objections I am a tough testAs it arose from criticism of the Zero Covid policy, it has now been tokenized by Xi and his leadership.

For Michelle, on the other hand, it seems to be nothing but trouble. “Maybe he had other ideas,” said a European official. Politician On condition of anonymity. “As the first Western leader to go to ‘China’ in the midst of these protests, he’s going to have to say something, what would he say? If he could turn back the clock, he would probably cancel” the trip, he added.

Reinhard ButtikoferGreen MEPs and head of the European Parliament delegation for relations with China called on Michel to “seize the opportunity to raise our concerns on several issues.” He explained that “if there is a crackdown on the recent protest movement, the European Union is ready to raise the issue in international institutions and consider imposing new sanctions.” Politician.

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Signals in this direction also came from the United States and the United Kingdom. “People should be allowed to gather and protest peacefully,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, in response to a question about the Biden administration’s stance on the protests in China. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak He said that in the face of the protests, China had “chosen to take more drastic measures, including by assaulting a BBC reporter”. “We recognize that China presents a systemic challenge to our values ​​and interests, a challenge that intensifies as it moves toward stronger authoritarianism,” he said, addressing an audience of business and foreign policy experts, which also drew a harsh response from the Chinese. Diplomats.

but this is not all. For Michelle, there is another problem, too: travel topics. A note from the European Council states that “in a tense geopolitical and economic context, the visit represents an appropriate opportunity for dialogue between the EU and China” to discuss “global challenges and topics of common interest.” “We want to work with the European Union to strengthen strategic communication and promote the sustainable, strong and steady growth of China-EU relations,” he wrote. Wang LutongDirector of European Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. on Twitter.

The point is that the main questions asked by their Chinese counterparts, such as those about trade policy and US controls on microchip exports, Michel can’t answer. These matters are left to the European Commission. For this reason, the same source explains A Politician“The whole trip must be seen in light of the rivalry between von der Leyen and Michelle”.

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But be careful. As explained Richard FontaineAnd the chief executive officer From the Think Tank for a New American Security in Washington, prof, “Beijing views the United States and Europe as two separate powers.” And these tensions are just helping China.

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