Beijing's Global Role
After being re-elected for his third term, President Xi had a series of bilateral meetings with 40 heads of state and government in Beijing, Riyadh and in Bali during the G20. Xi Jinping also attended the Apec summit in Bangkok where he met leaders from the United States of America, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the EU representatives, including the leaders of Germany and Italy. The summits are part of a series of meetings that President Xi held between November and December 2022, including one in Beijing with Charles Michel, president of the European Council, and one in Bali with Giorgia Meloni, Italian premier.
This commitment to diplomacy and bilateral meetings reflects the global role that China sees itself pursuing with each region. In addition to attending the G20, Xi Jinping is focusing on China’s central Asian objectives and attended a meeting in Samarkand in Uzbekistan with the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (Russian, India, Pakistan, Iran, and the nations of Central Asia, and in Riyadh Xi Jinping attended bilateral meetings with the nations of the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The China-Arab States Summit held in Saudi Arabia, resulted in numerous agreements and memorandum of understanding on the topics of energy, infrastructure, finance, education, technology, and other strategic sectors, while the summit between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which consists of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar was on the topic of a free trade agreement between the Gulf and China. Trade volume between China and the Arab countries reached USD 319 billion in the first three quarters of 2022, which marks an increase of 35.3% year on year from 2021 which came to USD 330 billion.
Beijing invited Saudi Arabia to participate in the association of BRICS countries which is expected to have an aggregate gross domestic product value higher than the G7 countries within the next decade.
Beijing’s relationship with Europe was bolstered through its meetings with the Italian premier and with the President of the European Council. China is the leading trading partner of the EU, with a combined trade between the twenty-seven-member economic union and China equalling USD 696 billion in 2021, of which USD 472 billion is related to imports from China.
Italy-China appear positive with Meloni confirming Italy’s interest in increasing exports with China which amounted to USD 43 billion and a total trade value between the two countries of USD 65.8 billion between January and October 2022. In 2021 Italy-China exports increased by 22% year on year with an increase in aggregate trade increase of 20%, the main Italian exports were in the machinery, textile, and clothing sectors. A future political and economic mission was announced by Meloni for 2023 with Xi Jinping reciprocating by appointing Italy as a country of honour at the Haikou consumer fair and the China International Consumer Goods Expo.
Beijing also confirmed the purchase of 250 ATR aircraft, and ITA Airways announced a new direct connection between China and Italy in addition to the already ongoing routes operated by Neos, AirChina, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.
This comes as China has ended the covid zero policy, which restored domestic mobility and removed the possibility of lockdowns and restrictions within China.