The French President, Emmanuel Macronsaid on Wednesday that China has an “important role” to play in finding a path to peace in Ukraine, as he began a three-day visit to Beijing.
In a speech to the French community in Beijing ahead of a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday, Macron said that 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, it can play an important role,” he said, noting Beijing’s outspoken opposition to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, as well as its proposed peace between Kiev and Moscow.
The French president’s first trip to China in four years will be dominated by the conflict in Ukraine, and an official in his office told reporters he would try to hold his ground in talks with Xi.
Macron’s goals also include preserving and rebalancing China’s trade ties with Europe, as well as safeguarding French interests in the Asia-Pacific.
“We must not disengage, separate from China”, Macron told the French community in Beijing upon his arrival, stating that France will “proactively commit to continuing to have a commercial relationship with China”.
Macron discussed his trip to China and support for Ukraine during a phone call with US President Joe Biden on the eve of his visit, the White House reported.
The conversation showed the “common will of France and the United States to engage the Chinese to speed up with us the end of the war in Ukraine and build a lasting peace,” Macron’s office said.
The American and French presidents also hope to “get from the Chinese a contribution to the global North-South solidarity effort” and build “a common agenda” on climate and biodiversity.
Macron touched down in Beijing at around 3:15 p.m. (0715 GMT) and, after stepping out into the capital’s spring air under cloudy skies, was received on the runway by Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gangunder the gaze of the soldiers.
He will hold talks with Xi and other Chinese leaders on Thursday and attend a state dinner in the evening.
On Friday he will travel to Guangzhou, in southern China, to meet with local students, bringing with him a large delegation of senior politicians, business leaders and even celebrities such as composer Jean-Michel Jarre.
Also visiting Beijing this week will be the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenwho met with Macron in Paris on Monday to coordinate the preparations.
In a speech last week, von der Leyen warned Beijing against directly supporting the Ukraine war, while ruling out the EU “disengaging” from China.
(With information from AFP/by Francesco Fontemaggi)
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