Wang Yi traveled for a week to Europe, where he visited no less than five countries – Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, France and Germany. Returning to Beijing on September 3, the Chinese Foreign Minister cannot present his diplomatic tour of the old continent as successful, writes slate.fr.
Arriving in Italy on August 25, Wang Yi had a clear mission: to reduce the mistrust in Europe towards China. The files are numerous: repression of the Uighurs, restriction of Hong Kong’s freedom, opacity about the coronavirus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, etc. Employed on the “New Silk Road”, Italy should have been a good start, but the accounts at home did not match those at the fair. Wang Yi met only with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio to sign previously established gas and agri-food agreements. He also wanted a meeting with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, but was forced to settle for only a telephone conversation with the latter while he was in the Italian capital. The Italian stage was also marked by an incendiary press conference on Chinese totalitarianism. The protagonist of the event was Nathan Loow, a former leader of Hong Kong students currently taking refuge in the UK.
Arriving in the Netherlands, a country that provides entry for almost 50% of China’s exports to Europe, the Chinese minister was greeted with the message “go home!”. Unlike Italy, he met with the country’s prime minister there. But Mark Rutte did not avoid delicate issues: the situation in Hong Kong and respect for human rights. Invited to speak in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament about the human rights situation in China, Wang Yi declined, considering the invitation a challenge.
Norway has been at the forefront of discussing Arctic issues, as China plans to expand its “New Silk Road” to the North. During a press conference, Wang Yi did not refrain from criticizing the host country, winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Beijing will react “strongly to any attempt to use the Nobel Prize to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” he said, referring to the possibility of attributing this distinction to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
The visit to France was made in silence, remarks slate.fr., Stating that Paris did not give it due importance. He was received by President Emmanuel Macron, but the Elysee Palace vaguely communicated on the subject. More information came from Beijing, which issued a lengthy statement focusing on issues of common interest, such as “defending multilateralism.” It is essentially a message to isolationist Donald Trump.
In a brief statement, the French Foreign Ministry expressed interest in environmental issues and reiterated that “France is deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in China, particularly in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.”
Wang Yi ended his European diplomatic tour in Germany with a “visit to relaunch bilateral relations.” But a statement by the Chinese foreign minister strained the atmosphere after his meeting with President Frank-Walter Stenmeier. Speaking about the visit of the Czech Senate President to Taiwan, Wang Yi said that “this is an act of flagrant provocation, an act of support for secessionism.” “We Europeans are working closely together. We offer our international partners respect and expect exactly the same from them. Threats have no place here, “said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.