Why a cacophony of EU voices on China is a good thing

Henry Kissinger used to complain he didn’t know who to call in Europe in a time of crisis. Xi Jinping may have the opposite problem. Judging by the number of visits of European officials in recent weeks, Beijing will have to make multiple phone calls to understand the EU’s position in an emergency.

Within two weeks, China welcomed the leaders of Spain and France, the president of the EU Commission, and the foreign minister of Germany (a fifth visit, by the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, was cancelled at the last minute).

The different, even conflicting visions of EU-China relations expressed during these visits were seen by most observers as yet another public image setback and a confirmation that the EU is far from a ‘strategic’ international actor.

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