Xi to visit France, Serbia and Hungary next week

Chinese President Xi Jinping is to visit France, Serbia and Hungary next week.

China's Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that Xi will make a trip from May 5 to 10.

It will be Xi's first visit to France in five years. He is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss topics including China-EU relations.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the visit will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France.

The spokesperson also said that the time has come to take the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level.

Xi is also scheduled to hold summit talks with the leaders of Serbia and Hungary. The foreign ministry said they will reaffirm the results of cooperation through the Belt and Road initiative and strengthen partnerships.

Beijing has stepped up its diplomatic offensive recently.

Earlier this month, Xi agreed with visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that their countries will boost economic cooperation.

Hungary is a member of the European Union, but sometimes refuses to follow the regional bloc's policies.

China is believed to be trying to counter efforts by the United States to curb Beijing's global influence, and to drive a wedge between EU members that are working to reduce their dependence on China.