China’s Ambassador to the E.U. Tries to Distance Beijing From Moscow

In an hourlong interview forward of a European diplomatic mission to Beijing, China’s ambassador to the European Union stated that critics had misinterpreted his nation’s relationship with Russia, and urged their ties will not be as limitless as their leaders as soon as declared.

The Chinese language ambassador, Fu Cong, spoke earlier than Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Ursula von der Leyen of the European Fee journey to China on Wednesday for a three-day journey.

E.U. leaders are struggling to steadiness their deep commerce ties with China towards American stress to toughen their insurance policies, particularly in mild of China’s help for Russia because the conflict started. China tries to current itself as a mediator, insisting that it respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine whereas endorsing a few of Moscow’s narrative in regards to the conflict.

Listed here are a number of highlights of the interview:

Simply three weeks earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine Presidents Vladimir V. Putin and Xi Jinping signed a joint assertion declaring “no limits” to their nations’ friendship. However Mr. Fu stated China was not on Russia’s facet on the conflict and that some folks “intentionally misread this as a result of there’s the so-called ‘no restrict’ friendship or relationship.”

He added, “‘No restrict’ is nothing however rhetoric.”

Mr. Fu stated that China had not offered army help to Russia, nor acknowledged its efforts to annex Ukrainian territories, together with Crimea and the Donbas.

Beijing has not condemned the invasion, he stated, as a result of it understood Russia’s claims a couple of defensive conflict towards NATO encroachment, and since his authorities believes “the foundation causes are extra sophisticated” than Western leaders say.

He insisted the shortage of a name was of no nice significance, that Mr. Xi could be very busy, and that there have been frequent lower-level contacts between the 2 nations. Western analysts have contrasted that lack of communication with the shut contact of Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin, together with a visit by Mr. Xi to Moscow final month.

“I do know persons are fixated on the presidential name,” Mr. Fu stated. “The truth that President Xi is just not chatting with Zelensky doesn’t signify that China is on the facet of Russia on the Ukrainian problem.”

Mr. Fu blasted the Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken for saying in February that China was contemplating offering Russia with deadly weapons. Mr. Blinken, Mr. Fu stated, was spreading “lies on TV.”

“I had the impression as if two persons are quarreling with one another,” Mr. Fu stated. “So this ambivalence signifies that Europe has not formulated a coherent coverage towards China.”

In her speech, Ms. von der Leyen described the E.U.-China relationship as having change into “extra distant and harder,” and endorsed the view of China as an assertive international participant looking for to change into “the world’s strongest nation.”

However Mr. Fu welcomed her assertion that the bloc ought to “de-risk” its relationship with China by setting new floor guidelines relatively than “decoupling” or withdrawing. “I believe that could be a optimistic message, we’ve got to offer her that,” he stated.

China and E.U. nations have important commerce ties — China was the third-largest vacation spot of E.U. exported items in 2022, and the most important exporter of products to the bloc — and Mr. Fu stated this week’s journey can be a possibility to refocus on the basics of that relationship.

There are hurdles past China’s stance on Ukraine, together with problems with human rights. The E.U. imposed sanctions on Chinese language officers and entities in 2021 over the therapy of ethnic Uyghurs within the Xinjiang area. Beijing responded with sanctions on E.U. lawmakers, and an E.U.-China funding settlement has been politically frozen since.

Mr. Fu stated that he hoped each side would take away sanctions and finalize the stalled commerce deal, often known as the Complete Settlement on Funding. E.U. diplomats stated that in non-public conferences in latest weeks, Mr. Fu has urged China may unilaterally carry its sanctions, if it helped unblock the settlement and produced a type of reciprocal response.

“We’re open to solutions in the event that they suppose that if China does one factor, and we’ll be capable to do one other, effectively let’s speak about this, and we’ll be completely satisfied to discover all avenues,” Mr. Fu stated of the European facet.

Along with criticizing Mr. Blinken, Mr. Fu accused america of unfairly making an attempt to include China’s growth beneath the pretext of safety issues.

He stated Europe ought to carve out its personal insurance policies and develop extra “strategic autonomy,” as an alternative of following Washington’s lead.

In saying this, Mr. Fu hit on an open query in E.U. policymaking circles: had Europe drawn too near the U.S. after their deep alignment over supporting Ukraine, and did this now pose a threat of Europe not appearing in its personal pursuits vis-à-vis China?

That query is the backdrop to Mr. Macron’s go to, because it was to the go to of Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in November, with each accompanied by businessmen desirous to proceed to do offers with China.

“E.U. claims to be a giant middle, an influence middle on the earth, an impartial energy middle on the earth, as a lot as america, as a lot as China,” Mr. Fu stated. “So why does it need to hearken to america on a regular basis?”

Chris Buckley contributed reporting from Taipei, Taiwan, and Monika Pronczuk from Brussels.

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