Macron arrived on 6 April in Beijing with expectations for a possible breakthrough on working with China to find solutions to end Russia’s war on Ukraine, CNN reports. In his opening remarks at talks in Beijing on Thursday, Macron said Russia had “put an end to decades of peace in Europe” and that finding a “lasting peace” that respected internationally recognized borders was “an important issue for China, as much as it is for France and for Europe.”
China has claimed neutrality in the conflict and attempted to frame itself as an agent of peace. But it has refused to condemn the Russian invasion and continued to tighten its economic and diplomatic ties with the Kremlin over the past year – including a state visit from Xi to Moscow last month.
Macron, speaking roughly twice as long as Xi in his following remarks, stressed a need for discussion “with everyone” including Russia. “We do not simply want an end to the conflict, but respect for Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is the only condition for lasting peace,” he said.
Ukraine tops the agenda, but Macron’s trip also has a strong economic component, with the French president traveling in China with a delegation of roughly 50 business leaders, with some expected to finalize or even sign new deals during the trip.
Von der Leyen’s visit to China
In her opening remarks, Von der Leyen told Xi while she doesn’t see decoupling from China as a viable or desirable strategy for EU, “equally I could see a number of risks that Europe should address.”
In her opening remarks, von der Leyen also said that for peace to be restored “we need Russia to end its invasion and withdraw its troops from Ukraine.”
A vaguely worded proposal for a “political solution” to the war released by Beijing earlier this year was met with skepticism from European leaders, including von der Leyen, amid criticism that some proposals – like a ceasefire without a call for the withdrawal of Russian troops – favored Moscow.