April 18. 2024. 9:55

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France wants China to send ‘clear message’ to Russia over Ukraine war

France’s top diplomat said Monday (1 April) that Paris expects China to send “clear messages” to its close partner Russia over its war in Ukraine, after meetings with his counterpart in Beijing.

France and China have sought to strengthen ties in recent years and, during meetings in Paris in February, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told President Emmanuel Macron that Beijing appreciated his country’s “independent” stance.

But Paris has also sought to press Beijing on its close ties with Moscow, with Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné saying it wanted “China to send very clear messages to Russia” over its war in Ukraine.

“We are convinced that there will be no lasting peace if it is not negotiated with the Ukrainians,” he told a press conference in Beijing, speaking alongside his Chinese counterpart Wang.

“There will be no security for Europeans if there is no peace in accordance with international law,” he continued.

And China, he said, could play a “key role” in ensuring respect for international law is maintained.

Séjourné ‘s visit is the second to China by a French foreign minister in less than six months, following a trip by his predecessor, Catherine Colonna, in November.

Macron also visited last April, receiving a rock star welcome at a university in southern China from hundreds of screaming students and fans.

But he faced accusations of cosying up to Beijing and sparked controversy by saying Europe shouldn’t be a “follower” of the United States in the event of conflict with China over Taiwan.

‘Derisking’ not ‘decoupling’

And France’s efforts to improve ties with Beijing come as the EU seeks to shield itself from excessive reliance on China.

That “derisking” has emerged in recent months as a core pillar of the European bloc’s economic policy towards China, becoming necessary after the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The term contrasts with the more drastic approach known as “decoupling” — pursued by some policymakers in the United States who aim to isolate China or cut all commercial ties with the country.

But the EU increasingly views China as a “partner” but also as “an economic competitor and systemic rival”, a report by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said last month.

And in Beijing on Monday, Séjourné said decoupling was not on the cards.

But, he said, an “economic rebalancing” was needed to ensure trade is “healthy and sustainable”.

Foreign Minister Wang, in turn, said he “appreciates” Séjourné ‘s rejection of decoupling.

“It is not possible to decouple from China, and decoupling from China is the biggest risk,” Wang said.

“I believe that it has been proved, and will continue to prove, that China is an opportunity and not a risk for Europe. Both sides are partners and not rivals,” he said.

Read more with Euractiv

Putin signs decree calling up 150,000 citizens for statutory military service

Putin signs decree calling up 150,000 citizens for statutory military service

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree setting out the routine spring conscription campaign, calling up 150,000 citizens for statutory military service, a document posted on the Kremlin’s website showed on Sunday (31 March).