“It will be less festive and more studious given the current economic and geopolitical stakes,” said the person, who was granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.

“We demand reciprocity in relations with China, in particular in the key area of ecological transition,” he said, with reference to the debate over how far Europe should de-risk its relationship with China.

The trip, which has been months in the planning, will be closely watched in Washington and across European capitals. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also heading to China for a visit in April.

Officials told POLITICO recently that China is trying to persuade Europe to let Russia sit at the table for future peace talks, potentially in Switzerland — or Beijing will boycott such meetings.

That message was amplified, they say, during Chinese special envoy Li Hui’s European tour earlier this month to discuss the future of Ukraine. On the public record, the Chinese foreign ministry said Li vowed “support [for] the timely convening of a peace conference with equal participation of all parties.”

Over recent months, Beijing has been trying to rewind Europe’s move toward de-risking, which it views as coming under the influence of the U.S.