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Why did China send diplomatic missions to 8 European countries?

A diplomatic mission China will visit eight Central and Eastern European countries in the hope of dispelling growing suspicions about the “unlimited” relationship between Beijing and Moscow.

Ms. Huo Yuzhen, China’s special representative at the Forum on China Cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe (also known as “16+1”), will lead the delegation to visit Europe. The stops include Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonian, Latvia and Poland, according to the announcement on Twitter by the director of the European Department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

This will be China’s first diplomatic mission to the region since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the campaign military special at Ukraine February 24th.

Some members of the Chinese delegation to Central and Eastern Europe, including Ms. Huo Ngoc Tran (far left)


Trip “damage control”

The trip also took place after Lithuania became the first country to withdraw from “17+1” last year, citing the forum’s lack of commercial benefits as expected. Relations between Vilnius and Beijing subsequently deteriorated significantly over the Taiwan issue, leading to diplomatic and trade tensions between China and the EU.

Justyna Szczudlik, China analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, said it was a “damage control” trip because Central and Eastern European countries were “very disappointed” by the relationship. Beijing’s position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

To date, China has not condemned Russia like Western countries, nor has publicly declared its side with Russia. But in Central and Eastern Europe, Beijing’s response was interpreted as supporting Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Newspaper Global Times said the Chinese delegation’s European visit was aimed at dispelling misunderstandings about Beijing’s stance on the war in Ukraine.

“Because of the US efforts to smear China’s independent stance on Ukraine and portray China and Russia as evil allies, countries in Central and Eastern Europe may have more misunderstandings about China. Under such circumstances, the Chinese delegation will explain China’s position, refute misinformation and clarify misunderstandings,” the newspaper quoted Cui Hong Kien, head of European studies at the Institute of European Studies. China International Studies.

According to a Europe expert at Renmin University in Beijing, the trip of Ms. Huo, who served as China’s ambassador to the Czech Republic and Romania, was “very timely and very necessary”.

“First, China must clarify what the Sino-Russian relationship exactly is; second, China and Russia are two different countries; and third, China’s position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict to see how China wins support from these countries,” said Professor Wang Yiwei above. South China Morning Post.

Doubts increase

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Yucheng met Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov on April 18. During the exchange, Mr. Lac said that “no matter how the international situation develops, China will still strengthen strategic coordination with Russia, achieve mutually beneficial cooperation, and jointly protect the common interests of both countries.” side”, according to CGTN station.

In early February, Beijing and Moscow declared that cooperation between the two countries was “unlimited” after the meeting between the President of China. Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, countries in the Baltic and Central Europe have pushed to punish Russia for the war in Ukraine, and countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and Latvia have provided military aid to Kyiv.

According to Professor Wang, the Baltic states as well as Central and Eastern Europe believe that the declaration of “unlimited cooperation” means that China and Russia become an alliance and China supports Russia.

“China needs to make it clear that ‘unlimited’ cooperation is a way to deter the US,” he said.

Expert Szczudlik said Beijing seems to be aware that countries in the region are losing sympathy with China. Therefore, the Chinese delegation will try to convince the Central and Eastern European countries that there is still room for cooperation and that “16+1” (which was 17+1 before Lithuania withdrew) is still relevant. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this forum.

However, the departure of Lithuania has already brought this cooperation framework into a “deep crisis”. And China’s attitude towards Russia could cause 16+1 to be “long-term frozen” or even wiped out, according to Ms. Szczudlik.

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