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Macron and Xi discuss Russia, Ukraine and trade

May 6, 2024

Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Europe for the first time in five years. On Monday, he discussed Russia, Ukraine and European-Chinese trade with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron in front of guards at Elysee Palace, Paris, France
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and called for continued cooperation between Beijing and EU member statesImage: Gonzalo Fuentes/REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday for talks on Russia's war in Ukraine and trade between China and the European Union.

Xi arrived in France on Sunday for a rare European visit, which included meetings with President Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Macron welcomes 'commitment' not to sell arms to Russia

Speaking at a press conference after the talks, Macron said he welcomed Chinese "commitments to refrain from selling any arms" or providing "any aide" to Russia in support of Moscow's war in Ukraine.

He said France and Europe "respect the ancient links which unite China and Russia" and therefore welcomed Beijing's promise "to strictly control the exportation of double-usage goods" which could be used militarily.

He said he was keen to "maintain a close dialogue" with Beijing and thanked Xi for coming to France to "coordinate" ahead of a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to China.

Insisting that the West "does not have a common goal to bring about regime change in Moscow," he said he hoped his meeting with Xi "will allow [us] to follow a common agenda and identify whether or not there is a will for a durable peace."

China's Xi Jinping arrives in France

Xi plays up China's 'positive role' over Ukraine

Xi was quoted by Chinese state media as saying all parties wished to see a ceasefire, a return of peace in Europe, and to avoid any further escalation, but he warned Macron not to "smear" China over Ukraine.

"China did not create the Ukraine crisis, nor is it a party to it," Xi told the press conference alongside Macron.

"But we have not been sat on the sidelines with our arms folded. We have always played a positive role to bring about peace."

"We reject the use of the Ukrainian crisis to cast blame upon others, smear third countries and unleash a new cold war. As history has repeatedly shown, conflicts can only be resolved by negotiations."

Xi said he would support an international peace conference including Russia and Ukraine "at the right time" and, according to Macron, agreed to back a proposal for a truce in all world conflicts during the Paris Olympics this summer.

"I thank you for showing your desire during our talks to ask all parties to have an Olympic truce," Macron said, adding that such a truce for "all theatres" of war could help achieve lasting peace in the conflicts.

Xi is scheduled to visit Hungary and Serbia after his trip to France.

EU's von der Leyen accuses China of 'market distortion'

In recent years, trade tensions have intensified between China and the EU, and the bloc has increasingly moved to reduce its dependence on the world's second-largest economy.

Ahead of Monday's meetings, EU Commission President von der Leyen had warned against what she called China's "market distortion practices," saying that state subsidies for electric vehicle and steel industries could lead to the "de-industrialization of Europe."

The European Commission has announced that it will examine possible tariffs on electric cars from China.

"China is currently manufacturing, with massive subsidies, more than it is selling due to its own weak domestic demand," said von der Leyen.

"This is leading to an oversupply of Chinese subsidized goods, such as EVs [electric vehicles] and steel, that is leading to unfair trade," von der Leyen stressed.

She said the world could not absorb China's surplus production and that Brussels would coordinate with the G7 group of countries affected by China's policies.

However, she also stressed that the EU was not seeking to "decouple from China."

"Current imbalances in market access are not sustainable and need to be addressed," she declared, calling for the EU to strengthen the resilience of its supply chains.

Xi calls for continued partnership with EU

During the talks, which were held behind closed doors, Xi agreed that economic and trade frictions should be addressed through dialogue, according to Chinese state media.

He said China and the EU should "remain partners" and "carry out strategic coordination" and thus "make new contributions to world peace and development."

Chairing the meeting, Macron urged "fair rules for all" in Europe-China trade and said, "The future of our continent will very clearly depend on our ability to continue to develop relations with China in a balanced manner."

mf,sdi/wmr,ab (AFP, Reuters, dpa)