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Xi wants peace in Ukraine – but the path remains unclear 

President of China Xi Jinping, right, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, stand facing each other and are speaking together, although their bodies are turned outwards towards the camera. Both are wearing dark ties, white shirts and black suits. Behind them are alternating Chinese and German flags – the German flag with a black stripe on top, then red, then yellow, while the Chinese flag is red with a big yellow star in the top left-hand corner and a circle of yellow stars around it.
Chinese President Xi Jinping did not promise German chancellor Olaf Scholz that he would attend Switzerland’s peace summit in June, from which Russia is to be excluded, as he would only support such an international conference if it was accepted by both Russia and Ukraine. KEYSTONE

Following his meeting with German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz in Beijing this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for international cooperation to prevent further escalation in the Ukraine war and achieve a peaceful solution quickly. 

After more than three hours of talks on Tuesday, Xi appealed to all parties to contribute to easing tensions “instead of pouring oil on the fire”.  

However, he did not promise the chancellor that he would attend Switzerland’s peace summit in June, from which Russia is to be excluded, according to an official statement. He would only support such an international conference if it was accepted by both Russia and Ukraine, it said. However, he wanted to remain in positive dialogue about the conference in Switzerland and “other relevant international peace conferences” in the future.  

+All you need to know about Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already rejected the Swiss conference, to which 100 countries are to be invited. The hosts wanted to bring to the table as many countries as possible that are friendly to Russia – above all China.  

Scholz: Ukraine war jeopardises international order 

China, as a nuclear power with a population of 1.4 billion, is considered Russia’s most important ally, but has so far exercised little of its influence on the conflict. At the beginning of the talks, Scholz had emphasised to Xi the devastating effects of the war.  

“Indirectly, they damage the entire international order, because they violate a principle of the United Nations Charter: the principle of the inviolability of state borders,” he said. “Russia’s offensive war against Ukraine and its armament have a very significant negative impact on security in Europe.”  

The West has accused China of supplying Russia with goods that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, thereby supporting the Russian war economy. Scholz had already made it clear before the meeting that he wanted to address this issue directly. Xi did not address this in his statement, only saying that China was “not a party nor a participant in the Ukraine crisis”. 

No one should be ‘on the menu’ 

Scholz and Xi spoke for a total of three hours and 20 minutes – an unusually long time. They first spoke for an hour in a large group, followed by a private 45-minute tea ceremony, and finally a meal. With this in mind, Xi is said to have used a parable alluding to the resolution initiatives in the Ukraine war: everyone should sit at the table, but no one should be on the menu.  

Scholz and Xi once again agreed that nuclear weapons should not be used. This commitment by Xi was the greatest success of the chancellor’s inaugural visit to China in November 2022. There was initially no sign of anything comparable on Tuesday.  

+Swiss foreign minister reaffirms financial support for Ukraine

Xi spoke of a “new era of turbulence and upheaval” in which the risks for all of humanity are increasing: “In order to resolve these issues, it is essential that cooperation between the major powers gains the upper hand.” In this sense, stable cooperation between the major economies of Germany and China was important, he said: “Together, we can breathe more stability and security into the world.” 

Xi warns against protectionism  

Last summer, the German government adopted a comprehensive China strategy for the first time. The strategy defined the country, which is ruled with a heavy hand by its communist leadership, as a partner, competitor, and systemic rival. The core of the strategy was to reduce economic dependency on China to avoid a rude awakening like the one after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, when gas supplies were cut. This is known as de-risking or risk minimisation. Xi emphasised that cooperation between Germany and China did not represent a risk, but rather “a guarantee for the stability of relations”.  

+Three Ukrainian women on the challenges of integrating in Switzerland

He strongly warned against protective economic measures. Germany and China both depend on industry and support free trade, he said according to the official statement: “With this in mind, both sides should be wary of the rise of protectionism.” The EU Commission is investigating whether the sale of Chinese electric cars in Europe is being improperly subsidised, and Xi’s statements are likely to be aimed at this. 

Translated from German by DeepL/kp 

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

If you want to know more about how we work, have a look here, and if you have feedback on this news story please write to english@swissinfo.ch.

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