Premier Li Qiang of China is set to embark on a six-day European tour, starting Sunday, marking his first overseas visit since assuming office in March. Li’s visit to Germany and France is seen as a crucial step towards enhancing China’s collaboration with these major European countries, and promoting the healthy and stable development of China-Europe relations.
The invitation for Li’s visit came from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the French government, as confirmed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. This trip takes place against the backdrop of complex changes in the international situation, challenges arising from geopolitical competition, the ongoing Ukraine crisis, and the slow recovery of the global economy.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin highlighted the significance of Li’s choice to visit Germany and France on his maiden overseas visit, affirming China’s high regard for its ties with these nations. Wang stated during a regular news conference that, in addition to official visits, Li would participate in the seventh China-Germany intergovernmental consultation in Berlin and attend the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in Paris.
During his stay in Germany, Premier Li will also attend the 11th Sino-German Economic and Technical Cooperation Forum, engaging in in-depth exchanges with representatives of the business communities from both countries, according to Wang.
Amidst a tumultuous international situation, a sluggish global economic recovery, and mounting common challenges, China seeks to deepen and expand relations with Germany. Wang emphasized that both countries aim to strengthen dialogue, cooperation, and mutual benefit, while jointly responding to global challenges. These efforts are expected to contribute to world economic prosperity, peace, and stability.
Wang further underscored the significance of Li’s visit to France, which is an opportunity to promote the continuous development of the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership and contribute to the healthy and stable development of China-Europe relations. The Foreign Ministry spokesman also praised the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, emphasizing China and France’s important roles as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and responsible major powers. They are seen as crucial in upholding multilateralism and fostering international cooperation to tackle global challenges.
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The visit by Premier Li comes at a time when a recent poll by the European Council on Foreign Relations reveals that the majority of Europeans view China as a “necessary partner.” The poll, released on June 7, indicates that a large majority of Europeans are hesitant to “de-risk” from China and prefer to maintain neutrality between China and the United States.
European leaders, including European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, have all recently expressed that “decoupling” from China is neither viable nor desirable. They have emphasized the importance of maintaining contact and cooperation with China, further underscoring the significance of Li’s visit.
Li Qiang’s European tour signifies China’s commitment to strengthening ties with Germany and France, fostering cooperation, and contributing to the healthy development of China-Europe relations. As geopolitical dynamics evolve and global challenges persist, this visit is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the future of international cooperation and promoting peace and stability in the world.