France Implores China To ‘Bring Russia To Its Senses’ On Ukraine

Macron and Xi meet

[Al Jazeera] French President Emmanuel Macron says he is counting on his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to “bring Russia to its senses” over its war in Ukraine.

The French president, on a three-day state visit, made clear on Thursday he is seeking to dissuade China from supporting Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.

In a joint statement following those talks, the two leaders reaffirmed their call for peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow “as soon as possible”.

The men also reaffirmed their opposition to the use of nuclear weapons during the conflict.

To coincide with their meeting, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV released a report in which Xi hailed China’s “positive and steady” ties with France as the world undergoes “profound historical changes”.

Macron said during his trip Beijing can play a “major role” in finding a path to peace in the conflict and welcomed China’s “willingness to commit to a resolution”.

His visit to China – the first since 2019 – comes as Western pressure mounts on Beijing to help push for peace in Ukraine.

Though Beijing is officially neutral, Xi has never condemned the Russian invasion. While he recently went to Moscow to reaffirm his alliance with Vladimir Putin – framed as an anti-Western front – Xi has not spoken on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The talks were “frank and constructive”, the Elysee Palace said, while Beijing said the discussions were “friendly” and “in-depth”.

Macron, who is accompanied on his visit by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, said he wants to “be a voice that unites Europe” over Ukraine, and coming to China with her serves to “underline the consistency of this approach”.

However, Nicholas Bequelin, from Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, said it was unusual for Macron and von der Leyen to travel to Beijing together “and quite confusing”.

“There are two messages coming from Europe at the moment: one that is conciliatory that tries to see China as an economic partner that it has been for the last few decades, and as an inevitable superpower of tomorrow that somehow has to be accommodated,” Bequelin told Al Jazeera.

“And then there’s a much harder line that sees China as a strategic rival – a danger for the world order – and one that needs to be contained.”

Some analysts suggested Macron and von der Leyen may adopt a “good cop, bad cop” role in Beijing with the convivial Frenchman promoting a “reset” in ties, and the EU chief laying out the thornier issues and red lines in those relations.

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