Published: 11:32, May 14, 2024
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Experts hail fruitful results of Xi's visit
By Yifan Xu in Washington and Chen Weihua in Budapest

Europe trip seen as key for constructive economic cooperation, multilateral ties

President Xi Jinping shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 6, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Foreign experts have highly commended President Xi Jinping's state visits to France, Serbia and Hungary, citing the fruitful outcomes and positive impact.

They said that Xi's six-day visit to Europe, his first in five years, was pivotal for constructive economic cooperation and significant for bilateral and multilateral relations.

He issued a joint statement with French President Emmanuel Macron, announced the building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future in the new era with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and proclaimed the elevation of bilateral relations between China and Hungary to an all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership for the new era with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

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"These are huge achievements for all the countries involved, including China, France, Serbia and Hungary. And they point the way toward constructive engagement for economic development and employment," Jack Midgley, principal of global consultancy Midgley &Co, told China Daily.

As China develops and has stronger economic and political influence, Europe has to decide how to engage with China, said Midgley. "We should do that outside the shadow of the US. Let's do this on the basis of mutual interest," he said.

"The China-Europe relationships are characterized in economic terms by the development of infrastructure, the development of employment, foreign investment, and so forth," said Midgley, who is also an adjunct associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University in Washington. "This allows a more practical discussion, and it encourages countries to view the relationship in bilateral terms."

Jelena Grubor Stefanovic, director of the representative office of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, said that President Xi's historic visit is a boost to the further expansion of economic relations and trade between China and Serbia.

During his trip to Serbia last week, President Xi announced six major steps to support the building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future, including a free-trade agreement taking effect on July 1.

"Everyone is eagerly awaiting the FTA to go into force in July — as it is an opportunity for all. This FTA is one of the most important agreements Serbia has signed in the last couple of decades and is something that will create a new momentum for our economy in the future," Stefanovic said.

According to Stefanovic, the FTA can serve as an opportunity "for Serbian companies to be integrated in international supply chains of Chinese industrial conglomerates, for Western companies to have better entry to the Chinese market via Serbia, and for Chinese companies to keep finding opportunities for growth through Serbia as an intermediary market toward Western customer markets".

Ivona Ladjevac, deputy director and a senior research fellow of the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Belgrade, said that Xi's visit to Serbia holds significant implications for bilateral relations and broader geopolitical dynamics.

Serbia is the first country in Europe to embrace the global initiatives that China has proposed to advocate for principles such as peace in the world, common security and the development of different regions on the planet, Ladjevac said.

Gyula Thurmer, president of the Hungarian Workers' Party, said that China today offers cooperation to the world as a solid and strong partner. "It eliminated mass poverty and became the second-largest economy in the world. The Chinese economy grew by 5 percent last year, and its development is backed by innovation and modern industrialization."

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What's more important is that China does not impose its solutions on anyone, he said. "It does not prescribe prescriptions for Hungary, nor does it even give advice on what the Hungarian state should be like."

"The development of Hungarian-Chinese financial relations, as the Hungarian Finance Minister (Mihaly Varga) said, can further strengthen the security of Hungarian debt management," Thurmer added.

Andrey Karneev, head of the School of Oriental Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said that Russia highly valued the results of Xi's efforts as he advocated holding at a proper time an international peace conference that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine and ensures the equal participation of all parties and fair discussions on all peace plans.

Ren Qi in Moscow, Zheng Wanyin in London and Yang Ran in Beijing contributed to this story.

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