French President Emmanuel Macron urged China’s Xi Jinping on Thursday to reason with Russia and help bring an end to the war in Ukraine as the two held the first of a series of high-level meetings in Beijing.
“The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to [international] stability,” Mr. Macron told Mr. Xi, standing alongside the Chinese President outside the Great Hall of the People ahead of their meeting. “I know I can count on you to bring back Russia to reason and everyone back to the negotiating table.”
Mr. Macron also asked Mr. Xi to press Russia to comply with international rules on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will station tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine’s neighbour Belarus, a move seen as a dangerous escalation in the bloody year-long conflict.
Mr. Macron’s visit alongside EU chief Ursula von der Leyen comes after years of souring relations with Beijing over issues ranging from a stalled investment pact to China’s reluctance to condemn Russia over its Ukraine invasion. But addressing the press after his arrival on Wednesday, Mr. Macron said Europe must resist reducing trade and diplomatic ties with China and reject what some have cast as an “inescapable spiral” of tension between China and the West.
Ms. Von der Leyen, on her first trip to China since taking office as European Commission president in 2019, was also due to meet Mr. Xi later before all three hold trilateral talks in the evening. Mr. Macron also met with Premier Li Qiang before meeting Mr. Xi for an elaborate ceremony outside the Great Hall, where the two leaders witnessed a 21-gun salute and strode side-by-side along a red carpet as a brass band played their national anthems.
In comments reported by state media CCTV, Mr. Xi said China and France have the ability and responsibility to transcend “differences” and “restraints” as the world undergoes profound historical changes.