In the last five years, the People’s Republic of China has shown more assertiveness on the international stage than was the case in the past. To understand the main drivers behind this change, it is necessary to analyse the domestic challenges that the regime currently faces. Recently, the Chinese Government released two economic plans: Made in China 2025 and the 13th Five-Year Plan. These guidelines are not mere industrial plans but also draw crucial foreign-policy trajectories, including as regards China’s relationship with Europe. A two-level approach underlies the latter. The first level tries to intensify economic and investment relations with individual European Union countries in order to fulfil what could be called “development through acquisition”. The second level aims to strengthen the long-standing relationship between Beijing and EU institutions, considered by the leadership in Beijing to be crucial for the international rise of China.
1. Xi Jinping the centralizer
2. Xi’s approach to the European Union
3. China’s investments in European Union countries
3.1 The relevance of manufacturing industry
3.2 High-tech: Engine for the future
3.3 The pivotal role of European infrastructures
4. Strengthening European Union legitimacy