The European Union (EU) and China held their 23rd bilateral summit via videoconference on April 1, where President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, met with China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping. The two countries discussed extensively Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel following the summit, she said: “We have adopted massive sanctions that are effective. More than 40 countries in total have joined these sanctions.
“So, we also made very clear that China should, if not support, at least not interfere with our sanctions. We discussed that, and also the fact that no European citizen would understand any support to Russia’s ability to wage war. Moreover, it would lead to a major reputational damage for China here in Europe.
“The reputational risks are also driving forces in the exodus of international companies from Russia. The business sector is watching very closely the events and evaluating how countries are positioning themselves. This is a question of trust, of reliability and, of course, of decisions on long-term investments.
“Let me remind you that every day, China and the European Union trade almost EUR 2 billion worth of goods and services. In comparison, trade between China and Russia is only some EUR 330 million per day. So, a prolongation of the war, and the disruptions it brings to the world economy, is therefore in no-one’s interest, certainly not in China’s.”
The EU and China discussed extensively Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, which is endangering global security and the world’s economy, as well as food and energy security. The EU highlighted that its key priority is to stop Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign country and a key EU partner.
The EU also emphasized the importance for Russia to allow humanitarian access and safeguard humanitarian corridors, and to refrain from targeting civilian population and infrastructure.
Recalling the EU’s and China’s responsibility as global actors to work for peace and stability, the EU called on China to support efforts to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed in Ukraine, consistent with China’s role in the world as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and its uniquely close relations with Russia.
President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said: “As major global powers, the EU and China must work together on stopping Russia’s war in Ukraine as soon as possible. We have a common responsibility to maintain peace and stability, and a safe and sustainable world.
“Key international norms and principles must be respected. We count on China’s support to achieve a lasting ceasefire, to stop the unjustifiable war and address the dramatic humanitarian crisis it has generated.”
von der Leyen, said: “We underlined that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not only a defining moment for our continent, but also for our relationship with the rest of the world. There must be respect for international law, as well as for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has a special responsibility. No European citizen would understand any support to Russia’s ability to wage war. We also discussed how to cooperate on several issues like global food security, climate change and the fight against COVID.”
The EU recalled that the international sanctions against Russia were imposed with the sole purpose of stopping Russia’s aggression and despite a significant economic impact on the EU and its partners globally. Any circumvention of the effects of the sanctions or any aid provided to Russia would prolong the bloodshed and lead to even greater losses of civilian lives and economic disruption.
The EU will work with its partners to bring Russia and those responsible for Russia’s war against Ukraine and for any violations of international and international humanitarian law to account. Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or to aid Russia by other means must be stopped.
Photo credit: iStock/ Jakub Laichter. Eastern Ukraine, Donbas, frontline positions near the village Opytne in Donetsk region, bombed out school in Opytne. Upload date on iStock January 21, 2022.