New Telegraph

Ukraine War: France Asks China To Send Clear Messages To Russia

A top diplomat from France on Monday said Paris expected China to send “clear messages” to its close partner, Russia over its war in Ukraine, after meetings with his counterpart in Beijing.

New Telegraph reports that France and China have sought to strengthen ties in recent years and, during meetings in Paris in February, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told President Emmanuel Macron that Beijing appreciated his country’s “independent” stance.

But Paris has also sought to press Beijing on its close ties with Moscow, which have only grown closer since the invasion of Ukraine.

While China says it is a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, it has been criticized for refusing to condemn Moscow for its offensive.

Paris has, in contrast, become one of Kyiv’s firmest backers, with Macron in February even refusing to rule out putting troops on the ground in Ukraine.

And Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said Monday it wanted “China to send very clear messages to Russia” over its war in Ukraine.

“We are convinced that there will be no lasting peace if it is not negotiated with the Ukrainians,” he told a press conference in Beijing, speaking alongside his Chinese counterpart Wang.

“There will be no security for Europeans if there is no peace in accordance with international law,” he continued.

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“It is an essential issue for us, which is why France is determined to maintain a close dialogue with China,” he said.

And Beijing, he said, could play a “key role” in ensuring respect for international law is maintained.

Sejourne’s visit is the second to China by a French foreign minister in less than six months, following a trip by his predecessor, Catherine Colonna, in November.

Macron also visited last April, receiving a rock star welcome at a university in southern China from hundreds of screaming students and fans.

But he faced accusations of cosying up to Beijing and sparked controversy by saying Europe shouldn’t be a “follower” of the United States in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan.

The top diplomat’s visit this week comes as part of events marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China.

He will later in the day take part in the launch of the “Versailles and the Forbidden City” exhibition, where around sixty works of art and valuables from the palace will be open to the public until the end of June.

And France’s efforts to improve ties with Beijing come as the EU seeks to shield itself from excessive reliance on China.

That “derisking” has emerged in recent months as a core pillar of the European bloc’s economic policy toward China, becoming necessary after the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The term contrasts with the more drastic approach known as “decoupling” — pursued by some policymakers in the United States who aim to isolate China or cut all commercial ties with the country.

But the EU increasingly views China as a “partner” but also as “an economic competitor and systemic rival,” a report by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said last month.

In Beijing on Monday, Sejourne said decoupling was not on the cards. But, he said, an “economic rebalancing” was needed to ensure trade is “healthy and sustainable.”

Foreign Minister Wang, in turn, said he “appreciates” Sejourne’s rejection of decoupling.

“It is not possible to decouple from China, and decoupling from China is the biggest risk,” Wang said.

“I believe that it has been proved, and will continue to prove, that China is an opportunity and not a risk for Europe. Both sides are partners and not rivals,” he said.

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