EU, China Hold Ukraine Peace Talks

The three leaders in a photo during their visit

The EU and China have begun talks to find an end to the Russian- Ukraine war.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held meetings with Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and other officials, hoping to coax China into playing a bigger role in attempts to end the war in Ukraine.

The two are the latest among the 27-member bloc’s big guns to try to persuade the Chinese president to condemn the Kremlin’s actions.

“I know I can count on you to bring Russia to its senses and everyone to the negotiating table,” Macron told Xi during their bilateral meeting in Beijing. Von der Leyen shared similar sentiments with the Chinese president.

But the EU leaders failed to convince China to condemn Russia.

‘Maintain dialogue’

Officially, Beijing claims that it is neutral on the war in Ukraine. But Xi’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on March 21 ushered in “a new era of cooperation” between Beijing and Moscow, and EU leaders have expressed concern that China could support Russia militarily. Some have even called on the bloc to reduce its economic dependency on China.

However, both Macron and von der Leyen told reporters in Beijing that “maintaining dialogue” with China was important, given its close ties with Russia.

After their meeting with Xi, they said that Russia-Ukraine peace talks should take place “as soon as possible” and reiterated
that nuclear weapons should not be used.

According to Chinese state media, Xi Jinping said that China and France had the ability and responsibility to rise above their differences and obstacles, and hailed Macron’s visit as one which would “inject new momentum and bring new vitality to China-Europe relations.”

While the Kremlin said that it saw no “prospect” for China to mediate in Ukraine, von der Leyen told reporters that after her meeting with the Chinese president that he had repeated his willingness to speak to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy — something the Chinese leader has yet to do.

“Chinese leaders are convinced, as Xi told Putin in his recent meeting, that the world is currently undergoing ‘great changes unseen in a century,’ which, simplified, is code for the decline of the US and the strengthening of China and other powers,” Mareike Ohlberg, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, told DW.

“Macron is free to give it a shot, but I frankly don’t see China fundamentally changing its behavior of offering official neutrality while providing mainly rhetorical and diplomatic support for Russia. I also don’t see China brokering a peace deal, much less an acceptable one,” she said.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri