Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with President Xi and President Macron, Ursula von der Leyen said China’s position on Russia‘s war on Ukraine is “crucial for the European Union”. The EU Commission President sent a thinly-veiled threat to the Chinese leader after she reminded Beijing the EU is its “largest export market”.
She said: “We count on China not to provide military aid to Russia, it would be against international law and it would significantly harm our relations.”
Von der Leyen stressed on the importance of China’s friendship with Russia and its role as a member of the UN Security Council in promoting global peace.
She said: “As a member of the UN Security Council there’s a big responsibility and we expect China to play its role in protecting peace.”
The warning echoed that of Emmanuel Macron who, ahead of his meeting with the two Presidents, urged Xi to “bring Russia to its senses”.
But the Chinese leader gave no indication Beijing would use its leverage as Vladimir Putin‘s diplomatic partner to press for a settlement.
Xi gave no sign China, which declared it had a “no limits friendship” with Moscow before last year’s attack, had changed its stance since calling for peace talks in February. But he added his personal authority by repeating the appeal at a joint event with Macron in front of reporters.
He said: “Peace talks should resume as soon as possible.”
Beijing, which sees Moscow as a partner in opposing US domination of global affairs, has tried to appear neutral in the conflict but has given Putin diplomatic support and repeated Russian justifications for the February 2022 attack. Xi received an effusive welcome from Putin when he visited Moscow last month, giving the isolated Russian president a political boost.
The Chinese leader said “legitimate security concerns of all parties” should be considered, a reference to Moscow’s argument that its invasion of Ukraine was justified because of the eastward expansion of NATO, the US-European military alliance.
Governments should “avoid taking actions that will further make the crisis deteriorate or even get out of control,” Xi said. He called for cooperation to reduce disruption of food and energy supplies, especially for developing countries.
During their talks earlier, Macron appealed to Xi to “bring Russia to its senses and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”