Xi's visit will inject fresh vigor into cooperation with Europe: China Daily editorial
President Xi Jinping is scheduled to pay state visits to Italy, Monaco and France from March 21 to 26.
The timing of his trip has attracted attention as it comes when the European Union heads of state or government are gathering at the European Council on Thursday to review a fresh 10-point policy package regarding China, and less than three weeks before the next China-EU summit.
Coming at such a sensitive juncture, the visits undoubtedly have special significance and will be scrutinized for auguries of the future course of China-EU relations.
The 10-point plan the European Commission and its high representative put forward on March 11 indicate that, despite a general willingness to engage China, Europe remains more or less ambivalent. Which prompted the European Commission and its high representative to call for Europe's approach "to be more realistic, assertive and multifaceted".
Such an appeal is understandable considering their definition of China as a "cooperation partner", "negotiating partner", "economic competitor" and "systemic rival".
Such terms as "competitor" and "rival" may sound less than desirable in what is now touted broadly as a partnership of strategic cooperation. Xi's visits should be taken as precious opportunities to cement bilateral partnerships and mitigate misgivings about the country's strategic purposes.
The prospect of cooperation with European nations looks bright because both sides are keenly aware of the promising potentials of a widening partnership. With Italy and France, for instance, China has found increasing common interests, not only on bilateral levels, but globally.
Rome, in particular, is reportedly ready to join the Beijing-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. And we will almost certainly see fresh agreements reached and contracts inked during Xi's visits which will give substance to the words expressing the desire for greater cooperation.
The pressure the United States is putting on its European allies to exclude China's Huawei from their 5G telecommunications market is erecting tough political hurdles in the way of the China-EU economic partnership. Which will no doubt make the balancing acts of European nations even more difficult.
While it is up to the Europeans to make their choices, President Xi's visits will nonetheless convey the message that China is a "cooperation partner" that is dedicated to win-win outcomes, a "negotiating partner" that is serious about mutual benefits, an "economic competitor" that brings boundless opportunities, and a "systemic rival" that cherishes "peaceful coexistence".
China-EU relations have enjoyed sound momentum of growth, and effective coordination and cooperation will enable them to build on that for their mutual benefit.