Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will conclude his three-day trip to Greece, Albania, Serbia and Italy today.
Wang’s trip comes amid souring EU-China relations. The European Parliament (EP) recently passed a resolution calling for increased EU interaction with Taiwan, meanwhile an EP delegation is also due in Taipei next week. With visits to these nations—all Belt and Road (BRI) countries—Beijing is hoping Wang’s tour will improve EU-China relations and shore-up Balkan support.
Despite Wang’s consultations, China’s message may struggle to resonate with EU leaders. The Union is increasingly exasperated by Beijing’s worsening human rights record, growing assertiveness and escalations with Taiwan. The EU is already slow-rolling ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, while individual EU member states are hardening their stances as well—earlier this year Lithuania left Beijing’s 17+1 bloc with Eastern European countries.
The EU’s determination towards completing an International Procurement Instrument—which will allow Europe to restrict public procurement to third countries that deny market access to the EU—will give a key insight on Brussels’ resolve to adopt a tougher stance on China. Beijing will likely continue efforts to assuage tensions, hoping to avoid pushing the EU towards aligning with Washington’s hawkish China policy.
Sinan is an analyst for the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. A student of transatlantic affairs, he specialises in political, economic and energy affairs of Europe and the Middle East.