Xi Jinping will arrive in the Netherlands later today for his first trip to Europe as China’s president.
President Xi Jinping’s tour will include France, Germany and Belgium as well as the headquarters of the EU in Brussels.
A 200-strong business delegation will join him on a trip that is expected to be dominated by trade – possibly including an order for 150 Airbus jets.
Xi Jinping is also likely to face pressure from Western powers to be firmer with Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
China usually supports Russia in foreign-policy issues, but last week declined to fully back its ally over Ukraine.
Beijing abstained from a vote at the UN that would have condemned Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
A tit-for-tat trade dispute, with China targeting French wine after the EU imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels, was only resolved on Friday.
Xi Jinping will be welcomed by Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima at the start of his state visit to the Netherlands.
He arrives in advance of a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague next week.
Xi Jinping is expected to discuss the situation in Ukraine with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the summit.
Correspondents say the Chinese president is likely to repeat Beijing’s call for “calm and restraint” in the crisis.
The Chinese leader will also meet French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his trip, which ends in Belgium on April 1.
One side issue of note from the visit comes from reports in the German press suggesting that the Chinese delegation had asked for an official visit, accompanied by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to a Holocaust memorial.
Berlin is said to have refused, fearing that it would be used by China as propaganda to highlight its complaint that Japan has not done enough to atone for its militaristic past.
Der Spiegel reports that the Chinese delegation has been told that President Xi Jinping is free to visit memorials in his own time.
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