Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: China Disputes Report Europe Heads Invited to Beijing Meeting for In-Person Diplomacy

China flatly denied a report that President Xi Jinping had invited top European leaders to meet him in Beijing later this year, and was still awaiting their response, as tensions fray between Beijing and the bloc. “I don’t know what’s their source of information,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, referencing the South China Morning Post report. “I can tell you that is fake news,” he added, at a regular press briefing in Beijing. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/xi-beijing-invite-unanswered-top-011814594.html) The newspaper reported Monday that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had been asked to meet the Chinese president in Beijing this November, citing a person familiar with the matter. The leaders hadn’t yet replied to Xi, according to the SCMP, which didn’t clarify when the invite had been extended. The governments of France, Italy and Spain didn’t respond to the newspaper’s questions on the matter, and the German government refused to answer. The Beijing meeting, if confirmed, would coincide with the Group of Twenty summit set to be held in Bali from Nov. 15-16. It would also likely follow a major Communist Party congress in China, scheduled for the second half of this year, where Xi is poised to secure a landmark third term in office. Hosting the European leaders would mark a return to in-person diplomacy with the West for Xi, who hasn’t left his country since the outset of the pandemic in January 2020 due to the nation’s zero-tolerance virus strategy. Instead, he has participated in overseas summits via video link.

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