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China is an important player for achieving peace in Ukraine, says Macron

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that China has a “major role” to play in finding a path to peace in Ukraine, kicking off a three-day visit to Beijing.

Macron, speaking at a gathering of the French community in Beijing ahead of a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping Thursday, said France would seek to work with China “in this shared responsibility for peace and stability” in Ukraine.

He said that “China, with its close relationship with Russia, which has been emphasized in recent days, can play a major role,” referring to Beijing’s stated opposition to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine as well as its proposal for peace between Kiev and Moscow.

The conflict in Ukraine is set to dominate the French president’s first visit to China in four years, with an official from his office telling reporters he will seek to stand firm in talks with Xi.

“We decided from the beginning of the conflict to help the victim, and we also made it very clear that anyone who helps the aggressor would be an accomplice to a violation of international law,” Macron told reporters after his remarks.

The French leader’s goals also include maintaining and rebalancing trade relations between China and Europe, as well as protecting France’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We must not detach ourselves and detach ourselves from China,” Macron told the French community in Beijing upon his arrival, saying France would “proactively commit to continuing to establish a trade relationship with China.”

The White House said Macron discussed his trip to China and his support for Ukraine during a phone call with US President Joe Biden on the eve of his visit.

Macron’s office said the conversation showed “the joint will of France and the United States to engage the Chinese to accelerate with us the end of the war in Ukraine and the building of a lasting peace.”

“common agenda”

The US and French presidents also hope to “obtain China’s contribution to the global effort of North-South solidarity,” and build a “common agenda” on climate and biodiversity.

Macron landed in Beijing around 3:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. GMT), and after stepping out into the capital’s brisk spring air under cloudy skies, he was greeted by Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang as soldiers watched.

On Thursday, he will hold talks with Xi and other Chinese leaders, and attend an official dinner in the evening.

And on Friday, he will travel to Guangzhou in southern China to meet with local students, bringing with him a wide delegation of senior politicians, business leaders and even celebrities, including composer Jean-Michel Jarre.

Macron’s visit coincides with an interesting meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California on Wednesday.

Beijing said it would “closely monitor the situation and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and warned McCarthy that he would be playing with fire by meeting Tsai.

China claims that democratic Taiwan is part of its territory that will one day be seized, by force if necessary.

Also visiting Beijing this week is European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who met Macron in Paris on Monday to coordinate preparations.

In a speech last week, von der Leyen warned Beijing against direct support for the war in Ukraine, while ruling out “decoupling” of the EU from China.

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