In December 1984 western governments detected the first signs of potentially far-reaching change in the Soviet Union when Mikhail Gorbachev, three months before he took over as Communist party leader, went on a trip to London. Gorbachev greatly impressed Margaret Thatcher, the then prime minister, who saw him as an articulate, vigorous man with whom, famously, she could “do business”.
Is a Gorbachev moment about to happen in European-Chinese relations? In two weeks’ time, Xi Jinping, China’s vice-president, is due to pay a visit to Europe and, among other activities, spend some time at the European Commission in Brussels. The parallels with December 1984 are intriguing. Read more