China has key role in finding ‘path to peace’ in Ukraine, Macron says

China has key role in finding ‘path to peace’ in Ukraine, Macron says
Опубликовано: Wednesday, 05 April 2023 12:49

The French president kicks off a 3-day visit to China with calls to engage Beijing.

BEIJING — French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that while he disagrees with China’s peace plan for Ukraine, it shows Beijing wants to “build a pathway toward peace.”

Speaking to representatives of the French community in Beijing ahead of his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Thursday, Macron said he did not agree with China’s 12-point peace plan but argued that Europeans should engage with China to find a resolution to the war in Ukraine.

“China, with its close relationship with Russia, which has been reaffirmed in recent days, can play a major role,” he said. China’s peace plan, which was unveiled in February, has drawn fire for failing to describe the war as a Russian invasion and for criticizing Western sanctions on Russia.

“Do we agree with everything in [China’s plan]? No. However it shows … a will to play a responsible role and try to build a pathway to peace,” he said.

“We, Europeans, would be mistaken to let Russia be the only European nation speaking to China,” he added.

Macron is on a three-day state visit to Beijing and Guangzhou that comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia’s Vladimir Putin last month, in a tour meant to showcase their close relations.

Ahead of a meeting with Xi planned for Thursday, Macron said efforts should be made to “involve China” and discuss “the consequences of the war for [France] and for Europe.” He also warned against “separating from China” and unraveling the commercial ties between China and the EU.

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Macron said he would discuss Russia’s threat to host nuclear weapons in Belarus last month.

“Since the beginning of the conflict, China reaffirmed it was against the use of nuclear weapons … During Xi’s visit to Moscow, they said there should be no deployment outside [Russian] territory,” he said. “I want to speak [to the Chinese] about Russia’s decision to deploy weapons in Belarus,” he added.

Addressing fears that China might support Russia with weapons deliveries, the French president said “whoever supports the aggressor would put itself into a position of being an accomplice in a breach of international law.”

The French president also defended his decision to visit China despite skepticism expressed by Washington over what could be achieved during the trip.

“I never believe nothing is possible. The German chancellor came here, the Spanish PM also visited, you would prefer not to come to China?” he said.

“I’m humble. I’m not here saying we are going to negotiate peace during this trip,” he said.

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