President Xi Jinping travels to Italy and France this month for his first overseas trip of 2019. His visit comes soon after the European Commission labeled China a “systemic rival” and “economic competitor.” Xi’s objective for both trips is to shore up ties with key European partners, Le Corre argues. The European Commission’s labeling China a “systemic rival” represents a harsh rebuke of Beijing’s behavior. However, Le Corre points to Europe’s lack of cohesiveness and countries’ divergent views on how best to engage with China as the primary challenges for the European Union in formulating a comprehensive strategy for Beijing.

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