China’s President Xi kicks off third term with flurry of diplomatic activity

BEIJING – China will host a host of senior foreign leaders this week as President Xi Jinping begins a third term in office during which he vows to increase his country’s global influence.

The head of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, will arrive in China on Sunday for a four-day trip.

He will become the first foreign leader to meet Xi since the Chinese president purged rivals and installed loyalists in a leadership reshuffle earlier this month.

Xi and his officials are expected to hold talks in the capital with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz and Tanzanian President Samia Solohu Hasan.

In November, he will likely travel to Indonesia and Thailand for major summits attended by world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

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The 69-year-old is also planning a trip to Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom’s foreign minister was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse on Friday. No time frame was specified.

Xi’s busy diplomatic schedule comes after he pledged at the Communist Party Congress twice a decade to ensure China leads the world in “international influence”.

His itinerary also marks a sustained return to the world stage, after the nation’s zero-covid policy for years limited diplomatic visits to and from China.

Xi has not left his country for nearly 1,000 days after imposing the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown in January 2020.

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He broke his spell of self-imposed isolation with a visit to Central Asia in September, where he met with Putin at a security summit centered on opposition to the US-led world order.

Schultz’s first visit to China since taking office is expected to face criticism as unease grows in Europe over Beijing’s human rights abuses and ambivalent stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The German leader is traveling with a business delegation seeking to increase trade ties.

Other visiting delegations have less complicated relations with Beijing.

Pakistan has sided with China at the UN, recently voting to drop a debate on human rights abuses in Xinjiang, while China is the largest trading partner of Vietnam and Tanzania. All three countries have signed major Belt and Road agreements with Beijing.

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Those meetings at home herald a tougher diplomatic date for Xi, who is expected to visit Indonesia next month for the G20 summit, where he could hold his first one-on-one meeting with Biden since the US leader took office.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington have risen in recent months, particularly over China’s military aggression toward Taiwan and the US’s restrictions on Chinese chip manufacturing.

Xi is then scheduled to travel to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Thailand, which takes place from November 18 to 19. Biden is expected to skip this event, but Putin is scheduled to attend. Bloomberg


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