President Xi Jinping has touched down in Europe for several state visits to France, Italy, and Monaco. Xi's European tour is intended to improve trade relationships as China hedges from its trade war with the United States. With his first stop in Italy, Xi is expected to sign China's biggest deal to date for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Besides increasing trade and promoting development, the BRI is expected to link China to continental Europe.
Once signed, Italy will be the largest economy and the first of the Group of Seven (G7) countries to be included in the Belt and Road Initiative, and would mean Chinese investment into Italian ports that received Chinese goods, as well as increased investment and higher imports of Italian goods into China.
Europe is increasingly engaged in a debate over how much Chinese influence is too much. Rome has come under intense pressure from the United States and across the European Union since it announced its intention, particularly over ports and telecom. Washington has called the Belt and Road Initiative a "vanity project," and has warned against deepening ties, especially on the technology front; while the European Union executive is urging countries to pressure China to further open its market.
French President Emmanuel Macron, in a surprise move, has invited Germany and the European Union to join his meeting with Xi on Tuesday, a move that is likely intended to pressure China into further opening its markets.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.