EU Faces Internal Divisions As Xi Jinping Visits Europe Amid Trade Tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Europe is expected to expose the internal divisions within the European Union over trade relations with Beijing and the bloc’s positioning between the United States and China.

As Xi prepares to visit France Serbia and Hungary, the EU is considering imposing tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and green energy industries due to substantial subsidies that give Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage.

While the EU has the exclusive right to run trade policy for the entire collective, member states have struggled to agree on how to address the trade imbalance with China.

French President Emmanuel Macron advocates for a more aggressive EU stance on subsidies, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has cautioned against the bloc acting out of protectionist self-interest.

“A worrying gap has opened up between the German position on China, on the one hand, and the position of the French and the European Commission, on the other,” said Noah Barkin, a senior adviser at the Rhodium Group and close follower of EU-China relations. “There is simply a greater readiness in Paris and Brussels to push back against Beijing on the trade front than there is in Berlin.”

Xi’s visit to Serbia and Hungary, both pro-Russia and large recipients of Chinese investment, is seen as an attempt to deepen divisions within the EU.