Chinese leaders tell EU counterparts that they will push for peace in Ukraine in their ‘own way’, pushing back against calls for a tougher approach.
China has given the European Union reassurance that it will seek peace in Ukraine, as it has resisted pressure from the group to adopt a tougher stance on Russia.
During the first China-EU summit for two years, Prime Minister Li Keqiang told EU leaders that Beijing would work for peace “in its own way”, while President Xi Jinping, who had a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin developed, he said he hoped the EU would take an “independent” approach, in a nod to Europe’s close ties with the United States.
During the virtual summit, the EU told Beijing not to allow Moscow to circumvent Western sanctions imposed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said that leaders from both sides “exchanged very clear opposing views” on many issues, but expressed the hope that China would have its influence as a major power and permanent member of the UN. Security Council will use Russia to persuade Russia to fight.
“We have called on China to help end the war in Ukraine. China can not turn a blind eye to Russia’s violation of international law, ”Charles Michel, President of the European Council, told a news conference with von der Leyen after the first summit since December 30, 2020.
“Any attempt to circumvent sanctions or aid Russia will prolong the war,” he said.
China has forged closer security and economic ties with Russia, refusing to condemn what Russia called a “special military operation” in Ukraine or call it an invasion. Beijing has repeatedly criticized what it calls illegal and unilateral Western sanctions. Several weeks before the invasion on February 24, China and Russia declared a “no-limits” strategic partnership.
Xi told EU leaders that the root cause of the Ukraine crisis was “regional security tensions in Europe” and that the “fundamental solution was to accommodate the legal security issues of all relevant parties,” according to the state-run Global Times. Li said China had always sought peace and promoted negotiations, and was prepared to continue to play a constructive role with the international community, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Prior to the meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned that China “disapproves of resolving sanctions problems, and we are even more opposed to unilateral sanctions and long-standing jurisdiction that have no basis in international law. . ”
Zhao said when it comes to Ukraine, Beijing will not be forced to take a side or adopt a simplistic friend-or-enemy approach. We especially have to resist the Cold War thinking and bloc confrontation. ”
He also portrayed the US as the aggressor.
“As the culprit and leading instigator of the Ukraine crisis, the US has led NATO to engage in five rounds of eastward enlargement in the last two decades after 1999,” he said, adding that NATO membership had almost doubled from 16 to 30 countries, and pressed “Russia step by step against the wall.”
Michel and von der Leyen described the tone of the summit as “open and honest”.
China is concerned that the EU is taking US directions and adopting a tougher line on foreign policy. In 2019, the EU suddenly switched from its usual soft diplomatic language to brand China as a systemic competitor.
The EU has also joined the US and UK in sanctioning Chinese officials over alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and the repression in Hong Kong.
Beijing has backtracked by freezing the implementation of an already negotiated EU-China investment agreement. It also suspended imports from Lithuania after Taiwan opened a de facto embassy in Vilnius, angering Beijing making the democratically controlled island its own claim.