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Newsline: Pace of in-person international diplomacy quickens as China stays on sidelines

Some of Europe and Asia’s most powerful leaders are clocking thousands of air miles in a flurry of diplomatic activity, but there has been one major absentee: China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not left the country since the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020 and now, with the country fighting its worst Covid-19 outbreaks yet, is left watching from the sidelines as Europe steps up its engagement with Asian rivals India and Japan. The whirlwind of diplomacy “is the result of political and economic rationales combined”, said a senior EU official. “These [rationales] have long been there, but with the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine they have become more pressing.” (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/while-china-stays-sidelines-pace-093000219.html) It has gathered momentum since last month’s EU-China summit, held by video link, and viewed in European capitals as a disaster. European leaders failed to convince Beijing to use its influence to stall Russia’s war on Ukraine, or to address other grievances over trade, human rights and economic coercion. Observers say China’s absence from top-level, face-to-face diplomacy could exacerbate these divisions.

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