Emmanuel Macron, the French president, appealed to Xi Jinping for Russia to return to its senses and to bring everyone back at the negotiating table over the Ukraine conflict.
Although the Chinese leader demanded peace talks, he did not indicate that Beijing would use its diplomatic leverage as President Vladimir Putin to push for a settlement.
France’s President Macron was in Beijing with the President Ursula von der Leyen of European Commission, who stated that she expected China promote a peaceful and secure world.
Ms Von der Leyen reported that President Xi had expressed his willingness for Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zilenskyy to talk to him, despite Mr Xi continuing to refuse to condemn Russia’s February 2022 invasion.
She said, “It was fascinating to hear that President Xi reiterated his willingness” to talk to Mr Zelenskyy. She said that President Xi suggested that a conversation might take place when “conditions and times are right”.
In his remarks after the discussion, the Chinese premier didn’t mention any possible conversation with Mr Zelenskyy.
And Mr Xi did not indicate that China had changed its stance after calling for peace negotiations in February.
On Thursday, Mr Xi stated that peace talks should be resumed as soon as possible. He also asked other governments not to do anything that could “make the crisis worse or get out of control.”
The Ukrainian president repeatedly asked Mr Xi for a meeting, even after he visited Vladimir Putin last month.
While President Xi sought to position China in the conflict as a mediator, the West views him as favoring Russia.
According to the Chinese leader, he hopes that Moscow and Kyiv can hold peace talks as soon as possible.
Mr Macron stated that the West must reach out to China in order to end the war and prevent “spiralling tensions”.
As they stood in front of the Great Hall of the People, he said to President Xi that “Russian aggression in Ukraine” had impacted (international) stability.
“I can count on your help to bring Russia to its senses, and to bring everyone back to negotiations.”
China has offered a 12-point plan of peace for Ukraine that calls for both sides to reach an agreement on a gradual deescalation leading eventually to a ceasefire.
The West has largely rejected the plan due to the refusal of Mr Xi to criticise the actions of Mr Putin.
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It is believed that Macron asked President Xi to not give weapons to Russia. The Chinese leader responded that it wasn’t his war.
The United States as well as NATO claimed that China was looking to send arms to Russia. Beijing denied this.
Mr Macron also asked Mr Xi for pressure on Russia to adhere to international rules regarding the non-proliferation nuclear weapons.
After years of strained relations between Beijing and Europe over issues such as Uyghurs being accused of abuse in Xinjiang, a stalled investment pact, and China’s reluctance condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the European leaders are now visiting China.