Ukraine war: China peace envoy told again that Beijing must push Moscow to end invasion

A top European Union official has used a high-profile meeting with a Chinese envoy in Brussels to press Beijing again to use its leverage with Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Li Hui, Beijing’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs, who is leading China’s peacemaking effort, met Enrique Mora, the EU’s deputy secretary general for political affairs, on Thursday.

After the meeting, the EU said that Mora had stressed “the necessity to respect” Ukraine’s sovereignty.

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“The EU expects China ... to play a constructive role and to use every occasion to uphold and promote the UN Charter and international law, and to recall the necessity to respect the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” the EU statement said.

That expectation includes efforts by Beijing to get Russia “to stop the bloodshed and indiscriminate targeting of civilians by immediately and unconditionally withdrawing all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.

The statement did not include any details of Li’s response and Beijing did not immediately release its own readout of the meeting.

Mora’s comments were in line with a warning by the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, earlier this month that Beijing “cannot expect to be good friends” with the bloc without Chinese efforts to end Russia’s assault against its neighbour.

Li has faced a consistent message on this front throughout his extended trip through Europe, which started in Kyiv for meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other senior officials, including Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Zelensky’s office posted a lengthy statement after his meeting with Li promoting the 10-point formula it put forward in November, which demands Russia’s withdrawal and the return of all territory seized by Moscow.

Li Hui, who is leading China’s peacemaking mission, with Polish deputy foreign minister Wojciech Gerwel on May 19. Photo: Poland Embassy in China

Similar messaging during subsequent stops on Li’s tour have underscored a coordination that Borrell spoke of during a debate on China in Stockholm involving the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers. Borrell issued his warning there, even if some ministers did not fully embrace efforts to stymie Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The EU’s largest members, France and Germany, have said European policies toward China should not necessarily be in lockstep with Washington, but have backed calls for Beijing to take a harder line against Russia’s efforts to subdue its neighbour.

Borrell claimed that the EU’s 27 member states “are united behind the music” of a position paper on China written by the bloc’s foreign service and sent to members during the meeting in Sweden after intense internal haggling about its content.

Czech foreign minister calls for more united EU-US approach to China

Polish deputy foreign minister Wojciech Gerwel told Li last Friday that peace in Ukraine could only be achieved through the withdrawal of Russian troops and return of “unlawfully seized territories”, and that any military support for Moscow would result in “grave consequences for the bilateral relationship between Europe and China”.

And in an interview with the South China Morning Post this week, Jan Lipavsky, the Czech foreign minister, said that the EU “has to cooperate with the US, much more than [with] China”.

Li is expected to travel next to Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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SCMP , Ukraine War , China


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