Xi Jinping avoided giving details on whether or not China will support Russia for the invasion of Ukraine

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ursula von der Leyen speak during the China-European Union summit (Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS) (POOL/)

China avoided giving guarantees to the European Union that it will not take sides in the Russian invasion of Ukraineduring a summit with the President of the European Council, Charles Michael; and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

The second part of the meeting, in which the president participated, Xi Jinping, lasted only 50 minutes; while in the first session of almost two hours, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, kept a balance by avoiding giving guarantees to the EU that it will not align itself with Russia.

The Chinese premier assured that the country would “opposes the division of blocs and taking sides”, a Chinese diplomat told the agency DPA, following the line that Beijing has maintained since the war broke out in Ukraine.

According to the Chinese channel CGTNthe president stressed that China‘s position is “pursue an independent and peaceful international policy” and that advocates that countries comply with the principles of the United Nations charter and respect the basic principles of international relations, “including sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “conflict resolution through dialogue”.

In this quote, the EU sought to put on the table the important commercial relationship with China to dissuade any participation in favor of Russia in the Ukrainian crisis.

In Brussels they have no proof that Beijing has provided military aid to Moscow in the context of the conflict in Ukraine and they also do not see active support for circumventing European sanctions, but they hoped that the appointment would serve so that the Asian giant “does not help circumvent the sanctions, nor contribute to the prolongation of the war”assured European sources before the summit, that They demanded that China go from “a passive neutrality to an active neutrality”.

Image from the China-European Union summit (Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS)
Image of the China-European Union summit (Olivier Matthys / Pool via REUTERS) (POOL /)

“Strategic calculation”

The Europeans seek to influence the strategic calculation of the Chinese leaders, highlighting the economic cost that they will suffer in the event of concrete support for Russia”, estimated Grzegorz Stec, from the German institute Merics.

China’s convoluted reactions are a way of being on the Russian side without paying the price. Without more pressure, he will provide more help to Putin”, stated the German environmentalist MEP Reinhard Bütikofer.

But the European Union is a prisoner of its strong interdependence with Beijing: the bloc absorbs 15% of the Asian giant’s exports, which supplies it with manufactured goods and crucial components.

China also buys 10% of EU exports, being a key market, especially for German industry.

Under the impetus of Berlin, the EU and China signed an ambitious investment agreement at the end of 2020.

But its ratification is frozen by the EU sanctions to punish forced labor in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, denied by Beijing, and the reprisals of the communist regime against European parliamentarians and researchers.

And to this has recently been added China’s blockade of imports from Lithuania after this Baltic country allowed the opening of an official representation of Taiwan in this country.

The danger is that China ‘oversells’ its neutrality to obtain concessions, such as the resumption of negotiations on the investment agreement”, warns Valérie Niquet, from the Foundation for Strategic Research.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council (Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS)
Charles Michel, President of the European Council (Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS) (POOL/)

An “illusory” idea

On Wednesday, visiting Beijing, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov obtained a reaffirmation of the “unlimited” friendship of the two countries against the United States in the name of a new “multipolar world order”, a vision that fuels concern in the West at the emergence of a hostile “authoritarian” bloc.

The idea of ​​disassociating China from Russia is illusory: when the war in Ukraine is over, the attention of the United States will return primarily and not in a friendly spirit to China, which therefore has an interest in maintaining its cooperation.” with his neighbor, says Sylvie Bermann, former French ambassador to Moscow and Beijing.

China is not the only country of international weight that does not condemn Moscow. Neither does India, South Africa, Pakistan or Brazil..

For Beijing, the Europeans have allowed themselves to be drawn into a conflict instigated by Washington that has exposed the weaknesses of the West.

Ultra-dependent on Russian gas, “Europe may have shot itself in the foot by joining US sanctions”, warns the Chinese nationalist daily Global Timeswhich refuses to link Brussels-Beijing relations with the crisis between the Europeans and Moscow over Ukraine.

Asked about the summit on Wednesday, the spokesman for Chinese diplomacy Wang Wenbin desire “sustained and healthy development of China-EU relations to inject stability and positive energy into a complex and turbulent world situation”.

(With information from Europa Press and AFP)


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