China tells EU it will pursue peace in Ukraine in its own way

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominates virtual summit
  • First virtual EU-China summit since 2020
  • Chinese President Xi hopes for an ‘independent’ EU

BRUSSELS/BEIJING, April 1 (Reuters) – China on Friday offered the European Union assurances that it would seek peace in Ukraine, but said it would be on its own terms, deflecting pressure for a more tough on Russia.

Prime Minister Li Keqiang told EU leaders Beijing would push for peace ‘in its own way’, while President Xi Jinping said he hoped the EU would deal with China ‘independently’ , a nod to Europe’s close ties with the United States.

The EU told Beijing during the virtual summit with Li and Xi not to allow Moscow to circumvent Western sanctions imposed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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“We have called on China to help end the war in Ukraine. China cannot turn a blind eye to Russia’s violation of international law,” European Council President Charles Michel said during a meeting. a press conference with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, after the first EU-China. peak since December 30, 2020.

“Any attempt to circumvent sanctions or provide aid to Russia would prolong the war,” he said.

China is forging closer energy, trade and security ties with Moscow, positioning itself as a global force capable of standing up to the United States. Several weeks before the February 24 invasion, China and Russia declared a “limitless” strategic partnership.

Li told EU leaders that China has always sought peace and encouraged negotiations and is willing to continue to play a constructive role with the international community, state broadcaster CCTV reported. CCTV also reported Xi’s comments on an independent European policy. Read more

Michel said the two sides had agreed that the war, which Russia calls a “special military operation“, threatened global security and the global economy.

China has refused to condemn Russia’s action in Ukraine or call it an invasion, and has repeatedly criticized what it calls illegal and unilateral Western sanctions.

Michel and von der Leyen described the tone of the summit as “open and frank”, while von der Leyen said trade between two of the world’s largest economies far exceeds China’s economic ties with Russia.

More than a quarter of China’s global trade was with the bloc and the United States last year, compared with just 2.4% with Russia, an EU official said.


China is concerned that European countries are taking inspiration from a tougher foreign policy from Washington and has called on the EU to “exclude any outside interference” from its relations with China. In 2019, the EU abruptly shifted from soft diplomatic language to labeling China a systemic rival.

The EU, Britain and the US have sanctioned Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, prompting Beijing to retaliate in kind, freezing an investment deal EU-China already negotiated.

China has since also suspended imports from Lithuania after the EU’s Baltic nation allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital, angering Beijing, which sees the democratically-ruled island as its own. territory. Read more

Von der Leyen said Beijing must defend the international order that has made China the world’s second-largest economy. The West says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of the UN Charter.

“It’s a watershed moment because nothing will be like before the war. Now it’s about taking a very clear stance to support and defend the rules-based order,” she said.

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Additional reporting by Robin Emmott; Written by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott; Editing by Sandra Maler, William Maclean, Alexander Smith and William Mallard

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