EU’s Top Diplomat Calls Summit With China’s Xi a ‘Deaf Dialog’
- Josep Borrell says Beijing didn’t want to discuss Ukraine war
- China has faced pressure from U.S., EU to condemn Russia
The European Union’s foreign policy chief described a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “deaf dialog,” casting doubt on how much cooperation the Asian nation will offer to end the war in Ukraine.
“China wanted to set aside our difference on Ukraine,” said Josep Borrell, who accompanied European leaders in talks with Xi last week. “They didn’t want to talk about Ukraine. They didn’t want to talk about human rights and other issues, and instead focused on the positive things.”
Borrell told the European Parliament on Tuesday that “the European side made clear that this compartmentalization is not feasible, not acceptable,” adding: “For us the war in Ukraine is a defining moment for whether we live in a world governed by rules or by force.”
The comments stand in contrast to China’s take on the April 1 video summit between Xi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. A Chinese summary said the EU “expressed its desire for candid exchanges with China to sustain the good momentum of EU-China relations.”
Von der Leyen said in the talks that Brussels expected Beijing to “at least to do everything not to interfere in any kind” with sanctions it has leveled against Moscow for the attack on Ukraine. Michel said at a news conference that “we called on China to help end the war in Ukraine.”
China has come under pressure from the U.S. and others to take a clear line against the invasion, as its diplomats and state media play down civilian casualties and cast Russian President Vladimir Putin as a victim of NATO expansion. While Xi has spoken to key players in the dispute including Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden, he has yet to talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
In the summit with EU leaders, Xi said the current situation risks erasing the benefits of global economic cooperation and that Beijing and Brussels should commit to preventing spillover from the crisis, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Borrell said the EU urged China to “use its influence with Russia to reach an immediate cease-fire and to support humanitarian corridors,” and added that any attempt to help Moscow evade sanctions would have “serious consequences.”
“The China side stuck to the general statements of wishing to see peace, ‘we are peaceful people, we don’t invade the others,’” he said, “while avoiding specific commitments or avoiding also any kind of blame on Russia.”