France’s Emmanuel Macron declared the “time of European naïveté” towards China was over as Xi Jinping was hosted with pomp in Rome for a visit that has alarmed both Brussels and Washington.
Speaking after a meeting of European heads of state in Brussels, the French president said he welcomed plans to toughen rules for Chinese investments and efforts to amend EU antitrust rules to facilitate mergers between large European groups amid mounting concerns over Beijing’s global ambitions.
“The time of European naïveté is ended,” Mr Macron said on Friday. “For many years we had an unco-ordinated approach and China took advantage of our divisions.”
The 27-country meeting in the Belgian capital offered broad backing for a plan by the European Commission and the EU’s diplomatic service that branded Beijing a “systemic rival” and threatened retaliation including tighter rules on China’s investments in Europe, diplomats said. Mr Macron and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, have both supported the initiative, which has yet to be formally endorsed.
Yet Mr Macron’s comments failed to mask divisions among the EU member states. On Friday, the Italian populist government received the Chinese president in Rome as it prepares to endorse the Communist Republic’s international investment programme, called the Belt and Road Initiative.
One senior EU diplomat said discussions over China produced a “largely consensual assessment” of how to tackle concerns ranging from Beijing’s restrictions on European corporate investment to security fears over the use of Chinese technology in communications networks.
“We shouldn’t fall for the attempts of China to split the EU up”, a Brussels diplomat warned.
The EU is split over China’s BRI, with 13 central and eastern states having been enlisted. Rome is due on Saturday to become the first G7 country to sign a memorandum of understanding and endorse it — a move that generally is the prelude to loans and infrastructure investments.
Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, sought to give fellow EU leaders reassurances about his country’s decision, diplomats said, promising the deal would be transparent. Rome was still wary of Beijing in some areas, including cyber security, he insisted, according to people who witnessed the discussion.
Meanwhile in Rome, Mr Xi and his wife arrived at the Quirinale palace to meet Italian president Sergio Mattarella, who received the Chinese leader with Italian military honours. Later on Friday, the Chinese president was due to attend a state banquet at the palace with 170 guests followed by a concert by the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Large parts of Rome were closed off for security reasons as Mr Xi and members of a 500-strong delegation moved through the city. Several art galleries were closed to accommodate private views for high-ranking Chinese visitors.
Mr Matarella described the planned agreement as an “ideal framework for Italian and Chinese companies,” while Luigi Di Maio, deputy prime minister and leader of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star movement called it “a great opportunity for all of us”.
Mr Xi, who is to meet Mr Macron, Ms Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, EU commission president, are due to meet Mr Xi on Tuesday, along with Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, hailed the “mutual respect and trust” between Italy and China.
“There is no conflict of interest between us and we both know how to respect each other's concerns,” Mr Xi said.
But other Italian politicians voiced concerns that Italy would leave itself vulnerable if it allowed unchecked Chinese investment into the country’s strategic assets.
The country “cannot sell a piece of Italian and European sovereignty to the Chinese,” Antonio Tajani, the Italian president of the European Parliament, said.
After Moldova’s elections in February, the country’s leading oligarch, Vladimir Plahotniuc, thought he had things sewn up. While the Russian-leaning Socialists won the most seats, 35, in the 101-seat Parliament, Plahotniuc’s Democrats had won 30 seats and the pro-E.U. ACUM...( ) Read all
Russia is to keep its membership in Europe’s top human rights body after Germany and France engineered a last-minute deal to avoid a Russian expulsion, a step that threatened to further incite tensions between the Kremlin and the West.( ) Read all
Today we commemorate the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. 75 years ago, as being allegiadly ‘unreliable’, all of the Crimean Tatar population was deported from its Homeland. The Lithuanian Constitutional Court has referred to the acts against the Crimean Tatar people as a...( ) Read all
March 18 marked a year since Russia’s last presidential election. Vladimir Putin allegedly won 76.69% of the vote, on a turnout of 67.54% (or 51.7% of all Russia’s eligible voters.) But a recent study of video recordings from polling stations paints quite a different picture of...( ) Read all
The campaign of Volodymyr Zelensky, a forty-one-year-old actor who, on Sunday, was elected Ukraine’s next President, in a landslide, was light on specifics. He vowed to put an end to corruption and the trade of political favors for illicit wealth, and also to bring peace to the...( ) Read all
The radio station brought to light Victor Josu, a pro-Russian who is helped by Valeriu Pasat, the ex director of the Service of Information and Security to promote Russia's politics in Moldova. In 2010, Victor Josu was intensively supporting a further organization of a referendum to support the...( ) Read all
Katie Bowman, a PhD in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specialized in a very fine part of building complex and precise algorithms that could create images through a huge data stream of up to 5 million gigabytes, and then completed her specialization at...( ) Read all
Today's press conference of the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova, informally led by the Moldovan President, Igor Dodon, supports the suspicion that his undeclared and denied plan to place the country under Russian control exists and is still in motion.( ) Read all
Time flies. 15 years have passed since Lithuania‘s accession to NATO. Once, NATO membership seemed completely out of Lithuania‘s reach. Today, we proudly consider ourselves to be experienced and reliable members of the Alliance.( ) Read all
When Benito Mussolini debuted the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, the precursor to his fascist party, on Mar. 23, 1919, in Milan, he wasn’t inventing the idea of violent authoritarianism. But he put a name on a new and terrible breed of it. Under his leadership, squads of militants...( ) Read all
On this day five years ago the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation adopted - over one night - the decision (opinion) that allowed for the annexation of a part of Ukrainian territory - the Crimean penninsula. Thus, the decision of 19 March 2014 contributed to the commission of an act of...( ) Read all
BUDAPEST — The International Investment Bank, an obscure Russian financial institution with a small-time balance sheet, is an unlikely source of global intrigue. In more normal times, its plans to open a new headquarters in Budapest would pass unnoticed.( ) Read all
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Bill Keating (D-MA) introduced H.R. 1616, the European Energy Security and Diversification Act, to help both the United States and European countries attain global energy security while also encouraging a...( ) Read all
Latvia has finished construction of the 93-kilometer-long section of the fence with the barbed wire on the border with Russia. Kristina Petersone, the press secretary of Latvian State Border Guard said that as quoted by Diena.( ) Read all