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“Is Xi Ready to Hear What European Leaders Bring to Beijing?

European leaders have descended upon Beijing with a list of concerns for the Lunar New Year meeting. While the invitation was accepted and certainly appreciated, the European Union is hoping to engage in meaningful dialogue on a range of topics, including climate change, human rights, market access, 5G security, foreign policy, and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The EU wishes for China to answer questions like, What is the future of technology in Europe? and Will Chinese investment in strategic sectors be fair, open, and transparent? The EU is primarily concerned with economic stability, security, and protecting the interests of its citizens. The bloc’s primary goals for the meeting included the establishment of cooperation on projects regarding climate change, and creating a level playing field between European and Chinese businesses. The area of greatest concern for European leaders is the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to connect Eurasia and Africa via a series of international infrastructure projects. Despite potential advantages such as increased trade, the BRI carries with it certain risks, which the European Union wishes to make sure are managed appropriately. The EU is looking for China to show a commitment to joint projects connecting Europe and Asia, while at the same time protecting European companies from unfair competition from Chinese firms. Leading up to the Lunar New Year meeting, the European Union had also sought to engage in a more meaningful dialogue with China on the country’s human rights situation. In particular, the EU has urged Beijing to uphold human rights norms, as well as better address computational harassment and the situation of the Uighur minority in China’s Xinjiang region. Overall, the Lunar New Year meeting provides a unique opportunity for European leaders to communicate their visions and concerns with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Given the importance of the topics discussed, it is essential that China listens to the perspectives expressed by the EU and takes precautionary measures to ensure that the rights of Europe’s citizens are safeguarded in its economic and strategic activities abroad. This could go a long way towards keeping the wheels of the global economy turning smoothly, ensuring everyone benefits from its growth and progress.