European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has warned China President Xi Jinping not to supply arms to Russia, and she discussed a path to peace in Ukraine during talks Thursday in Beijing.
Von der Leyen traveled to China this week with French President Emmanuel Macron to show a united European front. Macron took part Wednesday and Thursday for the fifth meeting of the China-France Business Council. He later joined Von der Leyen for tri-lateral talks with Xi.
Speaking to reporters following her bilateral meeting, Von der Leyen said she raised the topic of Xi having a conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regarding a peace plan. She said Xi expressed his willingness to speak with Zelenskyy “when [the] conditions and time are right.”
Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had a similar discussion with Xi, who at that time also expressed interest in the idea. Von der Leyen said she viewed his reiteration as a positive sign.
But the EU leader said she also warned China against providing military equipment directly or indirectly to Russia because it would be against international law and “would significantly harm our relationship."
Von der Leyen raised the issue of Taiwan and the recent elevated tensions between it and the mainland. Beijing considers the democratically ruled island to be part of its territory, even though Taiwan has been self-governed since the end of China’s civil war in 1949.
China has vowed to bring the island under its control by any means necessary, including a military takeover.
The European Commission president said stability in the Taiwan Straits is of paramount importance and no one should unilaterally change the status quo in the region by force.
Von der Leyen said she expressed the EU’s “deep concern” about the human rights situation in China, particularly with the treatment of the ethnic Uyghur population there. She said the issue must be discussed and she welcomed the resumption of the EU-China human rights dialogue.
After her news briefing, Von der Leyen joined Macron and Xi for tri-lateral talks. Macron once again urged Xi to use his influence with Russia to end the conflict with Ukraine. Regarding Europe-China relations, Von der Leyen said decoupling from China was not “a viable or desirable strategy.”
Xi told the two leaders, “China and Europe should uphold dialogue and cooperation, maintain world peace and stability, promote common development and prosperity, advance human civilization and join hands to tackle global challenges.”
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and the Agence France-Presse.