China holds key to peace in Ukraine, says Macron - GulfToday

China holds key to peace in Ukraine, says Macron


Macron interacts with China's French community at the residence of France's ambassador in Beijing. AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that China had a "major role" to play in finding a path to peace in Ukraine, as he kicked off a three-day visit to Beijing.

Speaking at a gathering of the French community in Beijing ahead of a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday, Macron said France would seek to work with China "in this shared responsibility for peace and stability" in Ukraine.

"China, with its close relationship with Russia, which has been reaffirmed in recent days, can play a major role," he said, noting Beijing's stated opposition to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine and its proposal for peace between Kyiv and Moscow.


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The French president's first trip to China in four years is set to be dominated by the conflict in Ukraine, with an official from his office telling reporters he would seek to stand firm in talks with Xi.

Macron said Europe must resist eroding trade and diplomatic ties with China as he arrived for the state visit, seeking to refute any sense there was an "inescapable spiral" of tension between Beijing and the West.

Shortly after touching down ahead of EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, who is joining him on the three-day trip, Macron said maintaining dialogue with China was key given its close relations with Russia, which is waging a war in Ukraine.

Members of the Chinese guard of honour arrive for the welcome ceremony of Macron at Beijing airport. AFP

Macron spoke to US President Joe Biden before the visit about engaging Chinese President Xi Jinping to hasten an end to the Ukraine war, although the United States has voiced scepticism about Beijing's peace plan.

"We hear increasingly loud voices expressing a strong concern about the future of relations between the West and China that in some form lead to the conclusion that there is an inescapable spiral of mounting tensions," Macron told reporters at the French embassy in Beijing.

There was also an impression that de-coupling from the Chinese economy was already under way and that the only remaining question was over pace and intensity, he added.

"I do not believe, in any case I do not want to believe, in this scenario."

The trip will mark von der Leyen's first visit to China since becoming European Commission president more than three years ago, and comes after she said the EU must "de-risk" ties with Beijing, including limiting Chinese access to sensitive technology and reducing reliance for key inputs.

Europe's relations with China have soured in recent years first due to a stalled investment pact in 2021 and then Beijing's refusal to condemn Russia over Ukraine.

For Macron, facing embarrassing pension protests at home, the trip also offers a chance to land some economic wins as he travels with a 50-strong business delegation, including Airbus , which is negotiating a big plane order, Alstom and nuclear giant EDF.

Macron’s guests Chinese actress Gong Li (centre, left) and French composer Jean-Michel Jarre (right) in Beijing. AFP

Macron's aims also include preserving and rebalancing China's trade ties with Europe, as well as safeguarding French interests in the Asia-Pacific.

"We must not disassociate ourselves, separate ourselves from China," Macron told Beijing's French community upon arrival, saying France would "commit proactively to continue to have a commercial relationship with China".

The US and French presidents also hope to "obtain from the Chinese a contribution to the global effort of North-South solidarity" and to build "a common agenda" on climate and biodiversity.

Macron landed in Beijing at around 3.15pm (0715 GMT) and, after emerging into the capital's brisk spring air below overcast skies, was greeted on the tarmac by Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang as soldiers watched on.

He will hold talks on Thursday with Xi and other Chinese leaders and attend a state dinner in the evening.

On Friday, he will travel to Guangzhou in southern China to meet local students, taking with him a broad delegation of top politicians, business leaders and even celebrities, including composer Jean-Michel Jarre.

Macron's visit coincides with a flashpoint meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California on Wednesday.

Beijing has said it would "closely monitor the situation and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity", and warned McCarthy that he would be "playing with fire" by meeting Tsai.

China claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be taken one day, by force if necessary.


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