French President Emmanuel Macron has told the Chinese that he is considering “reconciling” with Russia and helping end the war in Ukraine.
In his opening remarks in Beijing on Thursday, Macron said Russia had “decades of peace in Europe”.
China claimed neutrality in the conflict and tried to pose as a peace broker. But Russia has refused to condemn the invasion and has continued to tighten its economic and diplomatic ties with the Kremlin over the past year — including a state visit by Xi to Moscow last month.
Macron arrived in Beijing on Wednesday with high expectations of working through a possible rift with China to find solutions to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
It is not clear if any additional mention of the conflict will be released during the French President’s visit.
Ukraine is top of the agenda, but Macron’s trip also has a strong economic impact, as the French president travels to China with a delegation of roughly 50 business leaders, with some expectations of finalizing or even signing new deals on the trip.
XI said during the talks that Macron’s visit wants to inject a new impetus into China-Europe relations, according to Chinese state media CCTV.
The Chinese president said the two countries “have the ability and responsibility to overcome differences and obstacles”, joint work on climate change and African development, CCTV reported.
Macron is expected to meet with Xi as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for a trilateral meeting next Thursday, according to a source at the Elysee Palace, according to a model of joint diplomacy with China between France and the European Union.
Europe and China are trying to find ways to reconnect, after three years of pandemic activity under China’s control and eroding ties over a range of issues including human rights and China’s war on Ukraine.
Earlier on Thursday, Macron met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine, the Elysée said in a statement.
“With the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic discussed the conflict in Ukraine,” he said, adding that Macron also had talks with Zhao Leji, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of China, in which he “raised”. the impact of the war in Ukraine on global security and strategic balance”.
Ahead of the visit, he also promised that Ukraine would be a “big topic” of his meetings with Chinese leaders. And she and Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in recent days before the trip.
A vaguely-conceived proposal for a “political solution” to the war launched by Beijing earlier this year was met with skepticism by European leaders, including von der Leyen, who criticized some of the proposals – such as fire – in favor of Russia.
Nevertheless, Macron remained on the best side of the peace move with China.
Speaking to members of the French community in Beijing on Wednesday, Macron said China could play a “bigger role” in the conflict in Ukraine because of its close relationship with Russia. He added that it would be wrong to allow Russia to have an exclusive dialogue with China on the path to peace in Ukraine.
Earlier in his trip, an Elysée source told reporters last week that Macron was in China “to question the Chinese red lines – notably refusing to condemn Russia”, but rather to find a way to create projects that will benefit the Ukrainian people and “then a way to find a solution to this war”.
A recent example of China’s mediation in Beijing on Thursday, with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran, signed a joint statement on the review of bilateral relations after seven years, following a landmark agreement mediated by China last month.