French leader, European Commission’s president 'pressured' Xi Jinping to influence Russia

French leader, European Commission’s president
# 07 May 2024 10:11 (UTC +04:00)

President Xi Jinping of China, on a two-day visit to France, spoke out firmly against criticism of his country for its close relationship with Russia during the war in Ukraine, saying that “we oppose the crisis being used to cast responsibility on a third country, sully its image and incite a new cold war,” APA reports citing New York Times.

Flanked by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, with whom he held several rounds of talk on Monday, Mr. Xi stiffened as he defended China’s role, recalling it was “not at the origin of this crisis, nor a party to it, nor a participant.”

The bristling remark appeared aimed principally at the United States, which believes that China, aside from buying enormous amounts of Russia oil and gas, continues to aid Moscow’s war in Ukraine by providing satellite imagery to Russian forces along with jet fighter parts, microchips and other dual-use equipment.

Mr. Macron and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president, who attended a morning session of talks, pressured Mr. Xi to use his influence on Moscow to bring the war to an end. Mr. Xi will host President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Beijing later this month, but there was no suggestion — other than a general wish for peace — that he would ask his “no limits” ally to stop the war.

The talks in Paris took place as Mr. Putin again suggested he might be prepared to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine. Russia has specifically cited Mr. Macron’s taboo-breaking statement in February that the deployment of Western troops in Ukraine could not be ruled out as a reason for Moscow’s decision to hold military exercises to practice for the possible use of battlefield, or “tactical,” nuclear weapons.

Mr. Macron has said repeatedly that he stands by his position on the possible deployment of troops, remarks intended, he says, to create “strategic ambiguity.” He did not address the issue on Monday.

Addressing Mr. Xi, the French president said, “Without security for Ukraine there can be no security for Europe.” But he emphasized that France was not at war with Russia or its people and did not seek to overturn Mr. Putin’s regime. Mr. Macron added, with respect to the war, that France and China “must maintain a close dialogue”

Earlier in the day, Ms. von der Leyen said Beijing should “use all its influence on Russia to end its war of aggression against Ukraine.” Mr. Xi had played “an important role in de-escalating Russia’s irresponsible nuclear threats,” she added, expressing confidence that the Chinese leader would “continue to do so against the backdrop of ongoing nuclear threats by Russia.”

“More effort is needed to curtail delivery of dual-use goods to Russia that find their way to the battlefield,” said Ms. von der Leyen, who has been blunter in her criticism of China than Mr. Macron. “And given the existential nature of the threats stemming from this war for both Ukraine and Europe, this does affect E.U.-China relations.”

It is relatively unusual for a top European official to describe the war in Ukraine as an “existential threat” to the European continent. Doing so may reflect Mr. Putin’s renewed talk of the use of nuclear weapons.

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