Beijing, urged by the EU to let go of Moscow, will contribute to peace in Ukraine “in its own way”

by Philip Blenkinsop and Yew Lun Tian

BRUSSELS/BEIJING, April 1 (Reuters) – China assured the European Union (EU) on Friday that it would work for peace in Ukraine but said it would do so on its own terms, rejecting appeals from Europeans to take a tougher stance on Russia.

At a China-EU summit via videoconference – the first since December 2020 – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told European leaders that Beijing would push for peace “in its own way” while President Xi Jinping expressed hope that the EU would consider China “independently”, alluding to the bloc’s ties with the United States.

According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, Li Keqiang explained to European leaders that China has always worked for peace and encouraged negotiations and is willing to continue to play a constructive role in the international community.

European Commission and European Council Presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, who spoke of “open and frank” talks, meanwhile called on Chinese leaders not to allow Russia to circumvent Western sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We have called on China to contribute to efforts to end the war in Ukraine. China cannot turn a blind eye to Russia’s violations of international law,” Charles Michel told a press briefing. the end of the summit.

“Any attempt to circumvent sanctions or provide aid to Russia would risk prolonging the war. This would lead to increased human casualties and the economic impact” of the conflict, he added.

According to Charles Michel, Europeans and Chinese agree that the war in Ukraine represents a threat to global security and the economy.


As China strengthens its trade, energy and security ties with Russia, Ursula von der Leyen recalled that its economic exchanges with Western countries are much more important than its economic ties with Russia.

Last year, more than a quarter of China’s trade was with the United States and the EU, compared with just 2.4 percent with Russia, according to a European official.

The war in Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation”, constitutes in the eyes of Western powers a breach of the United Nations Charter and Ursula von der Leyen believes that Beijing should defend the international order which has allowed the China to become the world’s second largest economy.

“This is a decisive turning point because nothing will be like before the war. It is now time to take a very clear position to support and defend the international order based on the rule of law”, underlined the president of the European executive.

China is concerned to see the Twenty-Seven adopt a tougher diplomatic approach towards it, in the wake of their American ally, especially since the EU now considers it a “systemic competitor”.

The comprehensive European investment agreement with China, put in place at the end of 2020 to try to rebalance economic relations between the two blocs, is now on hold.

EU sanctions imposed on Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown on the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang have been followed by reprisals, with China in turn imposing sanctions on European parliamentarians and diplomats.

(With Robin Emmott, written by Philip Blenkinsop; French version Myriam Rivet, edited by Bertrand Boucey)

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Beijing, urged by the EU to let go of Moscow, will contribute to peace in Ukraine “in its own way”

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