Emmanuel Macron has told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that the war in Ukraine has hit stability and ended decades of peace in the country.
The French president is visiting Beijing alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in an attempt to use Xi’s influence over Russia to promote a peace settlement.
Mr Macron said “Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to [international] stability. I know I can count on you … to bring Russia to its senses and bring everyone back to the negotiating table,” Macron told Xi.
“We need to find a lasting peace,” Macron said. “I believe that this is also an important issue for China, as much as it is for France and for Europe.”
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The French president would “try to build, and somehow engage China toward a shared responsibility for peace and stability on international issues”, including Ukraine, Iran and North Korea.
The Chinese leader didn’t mention Ukraine or Russia, but welcomed relations with France. He said Beijing and Paris are “staunch promoters of multipolarisation of the world,” a reference to reducing U.S. dominance in economic and political affairs.
Xi and Russian president Vladimir Putin declared a “no-limits friendship” before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and China has refused to directly criticise the Kremlin. Beijing has called for a cease-fire and peace talks.
China has become the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, helping to prop up the country’s revenue in the face of Western sanctions. This has made China increasingly influential over Putin, though Xi appears reluctant to jeopardise that partnership.
“China has always adhered to an objective and fair position on the issue of the Ukraine crisis,” said a foreign ministry spokesperson. “We have been an advocate of a political solution to the crisis and a promoter of peace talks.”
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Mr Macron said during a meeting with Xi’s number two, Premier Li Qiang, that he wanted to talk about “Ukraine, but also about all the major conflicts and the difficult situations around the world.”
“The ability to share a common analysis and build a common path is essential,” he added.
Li said there was likely to be “broad consensus” between Mr Macron and Xi but did not say whether China would lobby Moscow to make peace.
Xi said that China and France had the ability and responsibility to transcend “differences” and “restraints” as the world undergoes profound historical changes, Chinese state media reported.
Relations between the two countries have maintained a positive and steady momentum, Xi told Macron.