A virtual conference between EU and Chinese leaders is held, with Brussels seeking guarantees that Beijing will not support Russia. Leaders of the European Union and China met for the first time in two years, with Brussels asking Beijing for assurances that it will not supply Russia with arms or assist Moscow to circumvent Western sanctions imposed in response to its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
EU officials close to Friday’s summit preparations said any help given to Russia would damage China’s international reputation and jeopardize relations with its biggest trade partners – Europe and the United States.
The presidents of the European Commission and European Council, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, along with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, began virtual talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. They were due later on Friday to speak with President Xi Jinping.
An EU official stated that China’s stance towards Russia was the “million-dollar question” on Friday. Another pointed out that more than a quarter of China’s global trade was with the bloc and the United States last year, against just 2.4 percent with Russia.
“Do we prolong this war or do we work together to end this war? That is the essential question for the summit,” the official mentioned.
Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, reiterated China’s call for peace talks this week, adding that the legitimate concerns of all sides should be accommodated.
Wang Yiwei, an expert on Europe at Beijing’s Renmin University, said both China and the EU wanted the war to end.
“I imagine China would want to use this summit to discuss with the EU how to create the conditions acceptable to Putin for him to climb down from his current position,” he said.