President Xi Jinping - Photo by The State Council The People's of Republic China

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a state visit to Europe starting this week in an effort to increase trade relations while trying to end a trade war with the United States (US). He would travel to France, Italy and Monaco from March 21 to 26.

“The invitation was given by French President Emmanuel Macron, Monaco leader Prince Albert II and Italian President Sergio Mattarella,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu said as quoted by Xinhua news on Monday (03/18).

Xi’ trip coincided with European efforts to reach a balance with China after concerns about the influence of the panda country, as the world’s second largest economy, with the desire to conduct investment cooperation.

Last week China pledged to cooperate better on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)) with US and European companies, an attempt to ward off growing criticism that the initiative aims to project the power of influence Xi in partner countries.

Meanwhile, Italy is divided, whether they will sign a memorandum of understanding to participate in the BRI’ trade and infrastructure program. They also sought to strengthen agreements with Chinese companies from various fields ranging from banking to energy.

Italy’ willingness to consider business with China has sparked fears in the US and European Union (EU) after G-7 countries participating in the BRI and allowing the second largest economy to enter important sectors such as telecommunications and ports.

France, meanwhile, has said it will impose a new inspection system on communication equipment and technology manufacturing companies, including China’s technology giant Huawei Technologies Co.

Recently, America also issued a warning about data theft cases supported by the Chinese Government. In the latest developments, there was speculation that Xi and US President Donald Trump would meet to end the trade war, but the agenda would not be carried out at least until early April.

In the meantime, the BRI cooperation has been playing an increasingly important role in deepening China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, which has come a long way since its establishment in 2003. Since then, the BRI has been bringing tangible benefits to both Europe and China.

Gradually growing into an iconic brand in Europe, China Railway Express, which connects 59 Chinese cities with 49 European cities in 15 countries, made 6,363 trips in 2018, surging 73 percent from 2017, according to the China Railway Corp.

Those freight trains have rumbled along the routes, taking garments, auto parts, chemicals and other Chinese goods to European consumers, while taking back European food, machinery, equipment and timber.

For Spain, China Railway Express not only connects Madrid with China’ eastern city of Yiwu but also provides a better opportunity for the two countries to access and explore each other markets. Both parties recently announced that it will invite some 70 Spanish entrepreneurs to present their products at the Yiwu Imported Commodities Fair in late May this year, in which Spain will be the guest country.

For Poland, one of the largest agricultural countries in Europe, the China Railway Express is a good alternative for sea transportation as it helps Polish companies bring more competitive products to the Chinese market.

While guiding European companies’ to growing businesses in China, the BRI also directly leads to new investments and jobs in Europe. The Piraeus port, where China’ Shipping has investment, is an exemplary case of a win-win partnership between Greece and China within the framework of the BRI.

The port started to take a new look and achieved impressive results a few years after the Chinese investment came, in the wake of the debt crisis that hit Greece hard. The Peljesac Bridge, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Croatia’ history, is another example of win-win cooperation under the BRI.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also highly valued the presence of Chinese companies in the country, saying that they have contributed to the full employment and the long-term economic growth of Hungary.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com

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