The rise of China as a global power has significantly reshaped its global ambition. Under the leadership of Chinese president Xi Jinping, China has proposed a series of diplomatic initiatives – most notably ‘new type of great power relations’ and ‘one belt one road’ – in order to shift the international order in its favour. Does Europe matter in China's major initiatives under the leadership of Xi Jinping? How does Europe (and the EU) fit into China's strategic narratives? This article aims to address these questions by analyzing Chinese scholarly writings and conducting interviews in China. It also explores the evolution process of China's strategic narratives with a focus on the gradual appearances of Europe. This article argues that the EU/Europe is a second order concern for China, and Europe only plays a marginalized role in China's policy discussion. Appreciation of the internal dynamics of China is essential for Europe to develop a more accurate understanding of EU–China relations.