In Europe, Xi seeks to counter claims that is helping in Ukraine

In Europe, Xi seeks to counter claims that is helping in Ukraine
In Europe, Xi seeks to counter claims that China is helping Russia in Ukraine

(CNN) — Xi Jinping rejected accusations of his country’s support for ’s war in Ukraine during meetings with European leaders, as ’s leader makes a six-day visit to the continent amid a period of rising tensions between China and Europe spurred by concerns about Beijing’s closeness to Moscow ties.

“China is neither the creator of the crisis, nor a party or participant in it. But we are not spectators either, we have always actively contributed to achieving peace,” Xi said during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Monday, after a day of meetings in which the president of the European Commission also participated. , Ursula von der Leyen. .

“We also oppose using the Ukraine crisis to shed responsibility or smear a third country and provoke a new Cold War,” Xi added, in apparent reference to Washington’s accusations about the role of Chinese exports in “dual use.” “, such as machine tools and microelectronics. in support of the Russian defense industry.

European trade frictions with China and suspicions about its global ambitions increased in the wake of the war, after Beijing refused to condemn the invasion and instead emerged as a key lifeline for the heavily sanctioned Russian economy.

Xi’s visit to Europe, his first in five years, is seen by Beijing as an opportunity for the leader to present China’s own narrative about its role in the conflict unfolding in Europe directly to that country’s leaders, time that seeks to open a space between opinions. of Washington and its European allies.

The trip will also include Xi visiting Serbia and Hungary, with the leader’s visit to Belgrade coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in the city that killed three people.

“The Chinese people value peace, but will never allow the historical tragedy to be repeated. The friendship of the people of both countries forged in blood has become a shared memory and will encourage both sides to move forward,” Xi wrote in an article for Serbian media published before the visit.

The attack, which the United States said was an accident, was part of a broader NATO bombing campaign in the Balkans during the spring of 1999 and generated Beijing’s deep enmity toward the alliance, a view that has since brought it closer. to Russia.

Accusations of support for the Russian war

Xi’s visit to the mainland comes as US officials in recent weeks expressed concerns to their Chinese counterparts about dual-use goods exported from China to Russia, which they say are allowing Russia to expand its defense industrial base while continues its attack on Ukraine.

The support China is providing includes significant quantities of machine tools, drone and turbojet engines and technology for cruise missiles, microelectronics and nitrocellulose, which Russia uses to make propellants for weapons, senior Biden administration officials said last month.

Beijing has defended its trade with Russia as part of normal bilateral relations; It also says it does not provide weapons to warring parties. He has not been accused of sending lethal weapons to Russia, but rather military goods.

Macron said that during their meetings Xi “reiterated” the commitment he made a year ago to “not send weapons or aid to Moscow, as well as strictly control the export of goods from China that could be used militarily.”

“The duration and quality of our exchanges on this topic are a source of reassurance [para mí]”Macron said during their joint press conference.

He also thanked Xi for agreeing to visit France ahead of Russian President Vladimir ’s expected visit to Beijing in the coming weeks, so that Europe can clearly express to China its thoughts on Russia’s war in Ukraine and its willingness to support Kiev.” as long as possible”

Xi and Macron together called for a global Olympic truce, which would see a pause in fighting in all conflicts during the upcoming Summer Games in Paris.

The Chinese leader also called on Monday for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas, and Xi and Macron issued a joint statement saying it was “imperative to achieve an immediate and sustainable ceasefire,” while ensuring the provision of aid. humanitarian and protection of civilians. and “immediate and unconditional” release of hostages.

Calls for peace

Xi’s visit to Europe comes as the threat of an escalation of war continues to loom, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering Russian forces to test deploy tactical nuclear weapons as part of military exercises to respond to what which he called “threats” from the West.

In comments following her meeting with Xi and Macron, von der Leyen said that Xi “played an important role in reducing Russia’s irresponsible nuclear threats” and that she was “confident” that he would “continue to do so in the context of the current nuclear war. threats from Russia.”

“We are counting on China to use all its influence over Russia to end Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” he said, adding that “more efforts” were needed to limit the delivery of dual-use goods to Russia “that reach the battlefield.”

While claiming neutrality in the conflict and seeking to position itself as a peacemaker, Beijing has so far made little appearance of using its influence with Russia to push the country toward a resolution that would be favored by Europe.

Analysts also see Xi as being careful to ensure that any outcome of the war does not weaken Putin, whom he sees as a key partner in countering American “containment.”

In comments on Monday, Xi reiterated China’s call for “all parties” involved in the conflict to restart dialogue and “gradually build up mutual trust.”

He also appears to oppose peace conferences that have not included Russia, such as the one expected in next month. Beijing supports efforts recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with “equal and fair discussions of all possible peace plans at the conference,” he said.

CNN’s Shawn Deng and Wayne Chang contributed reporting.

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