South Asia and Beyond

France Asks China To Send A ‘Clear Message’ To Russia

 France Asks China To Send A ‘Clear Message’ To Russia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) with French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne in Beijing (Photo: AP/Ken Ishii)

France has told China that it wants Beijing to send a “very clear message” to Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Both the countries have strengthened ties and during the meetings in February, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told President Emmanuel Macron that Beijing appreciated his country’s “independent” stance.

French foreign minister Stephane Sejourne who is in China has seen his government firmly backing Kyiv with President Emmaneul Macron suggesting that it may even put its own troops on the ground in Ukraine, while China has backed Russia and is now the largest consumer of Russian oil.

“We are convinced that there will be no lasting peace if it is not negotiated with the Ukrainians. There will be no security for Europeans if there is no peace in accordance with international law,” Sejourne added.

Sejourne is on a visit to China – the second by a French foreign minister in less than six months has been accused of cosying up to Beijing and recently sparked controversy by saying Europe shouldn’t be a “follower” of the United States in the event of conflict with China over Taiwan.

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European officials have expressed concern that a flood of low-priced Chinese-made electric vehicles could disrupt production and displace jobs in Europe. The EU is investigating whether Chinese government subsidies for EVs give an unfair advantage to Chinese auto exporters. European companies operating in China are complaining that recent changes to national security laws have made it riskier to invest and do business in the country.

On the Chinese side, officials have raised concern about a “de-risking” strategy being pursued by the EU to ensure that it is not overly dependent on any one country for vital supplies and minerals. Wang expressed understanding for the European position but said he hopes it doesn’t negatively affect business sentiment.

Sejourne told the press that it is not desirable to decouple from China as the United States has suggested time and again. Paris has said that it would want economic rebalancing that would see Europe and other countries have a healthy and sustainable trade with Beijing.

Stéphane Séjourné, in talks with his counterpart Wang Yi in the Chinese capital, largely echoed positions that have been laid out by European leaders, including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on a visit to Beijing last week.

With inputs from AP