World, Russia-Ukraine War

Xi calls for political settlement in Ukraine as EU pushes China to 'take responsibility'

Xi Jinping says int'l community should not add fuel to fire, EU leaders press Beijing to use its influence on Russia

Riyaz ul Khaliq and Gozde Bayar   | 01.04.2022
Xi calls for political settlement in Ukraine as EU pushes China to 'take responsibility'

ISTANBUL / ANKARA

China wants a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, President Xi Jinping told top European Union officials on Friday as they pressed him to pressure Russia to end the war.

“China supports the EU’s efforts toward a political settlement of the Ukraine issue and has been encouraging peace talks in its own way,” Xi said in a virtual meeting with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

Von der Leyen said they conveyed the EU’s position to Xi in a “frank and open” manner and emphasized that China needs to fulfill its responsibility as a member of the UN Security Council.

“There are a few members (of the UNSC) and they have a vast responsibility. China has an influence on Russia and, therefore, we expect China to take its responsibility to end this war,” she said at a joint press conference with Michel after the virtual meeting.

“We also made very clear that China should, if not support, at least not interfere with our sanctions (on Russia),” she added.

According to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi stressed the need for all stakeholders to “insist on promoting peace talks” between Moscow and Kyiv, and put forward four proposals.

“Peace talks are the only viable way to prevent an escalation of tensions,” he said.

“The international community should keep creating favorable conditions for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, rather than adding fuel to the fire and aggravating tensions.”

While Beijing has so far refrained from directly condemning Russia’s war on Ukraine, Xi’s latest comments indicate a push from China to secure a halt in hostilities that, according to latest UN figures, have claimed the lives of at least 1,276 civilians and left 1,981 more injured since Feb. 24.

The Chinese leader also called for a joint response to avert a humanitarian crisis, saying that Beijing has sent aid to Kyiv and supplies to European countries that have been receiving large numbers of refugees from Ukraine.

According to the UN refugee agency, more than 4.1 million people have fled Ukraine, while millions more are internally displaced in the country.

“Third, fostering lasting peace in Europe and the Eurasian continent. The root cause of the Ukraine crisis is the regional security tensions in Europe that have built up over the years. A fundamental solution is to accommodate the legitimate security concerns of all relevant parties,” Xi said.

To prevent the regional conflict from spiraling, Xi said the fourth step should be to “not focus on just one aspect of the issue without regard to the rest, or hold the entire world hostage.”


- ‘EU should have independent policy on China’

Calling for “steady and sustained” enhancement of bilateral relations, Xi said the EU must “form its own perception of China and adopt an independent policy,” an apparent reference to the US’ influence on the European bloc.

He urged the EU to work with Beijing to jointly promote stability and long-term development of bilateral relations.

He said there is a need for China and the EU to “increase communication on their relations and on major issues concerning global peace and development, and play a constructive role in adding stabilizing factors to a turbulent world.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also held discussions with the EU leaders earlier on Friday.

“China has always pursued an independent foreign policy of peace, and advocated that countries should abide by the goals and principles of the UN Charter, safeguarding international law and universally-recognized basic guidelines of international relations, including respecting countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolving conflicts through dialogue and negotiation,” he told the EU leaders.

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