Mr Macron and Ms von der Leyen's show of unity is also an attempt to put paid to any Chinese hopes of exploiting differences within Europe. Some observers believe this is one goal of Beijing as it tries to woo parts of Europe away from the US orbit.
But with member states maintaining relationships of varying degrees of closeness to China, the EU has yet to come up with a clear consensus on how to handle Beijing. Some, like France and Germany, are more keen to preserve trade ties while others, particularly former Soviet bloc states nervous about Russia looking to claim other territories after Ukraine, will want to go harder on China.
The danger is that China may be emboldened to use its relationship with Russia as leverage over Europe, warn observers.