May 19, 2022

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China rejects sanctions as the Ukraine war tops the summit agenda

China rejects sanctions as the Ukraine war tops the summit agenda

Brussels (AFP) – China on Friday renewed its criticism of Western sanctions against Russia, as top European Union officials sought assurances from Beijing that it would not help Moscow circumvent economic measures imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has also blamed the war in Ukraine at least in part on the United States for pushing to expand the NATO military alliance close to Russia’s borders. Twenty-one of the 27 European Union countries are members of NATO.

In a virtual summit, European Council President Charles Michel, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sought cues from Chinese President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang that Beijing would help end the war in Ukraine.

“China does not agree to solve problems through sanctions, and we are more opposed to unilateral sanctions and long-term jurisdiction that has no basis in international law,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing when they met.

When it comes to Ukraine, Zhao said, Beijing will not have to “choose a side or adopt a simplistic approach of friend or foe. We must, in particular, resist Cold War thinking and confront the bloc.”

“As the main culprit and instigator of the Ukraine crisis, the United States led NATO to engage in five rounds of eastward expansion in the last two decades after 1999,” he said, adding that NATO membership nearly doubled from 16 to 30 countries, pushing “Russia into the wall a step.” step by step”.

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China says it does not take sides in the conflict, but has declared a “borderless” partnership with Russia and refuses to condemn the invasion. Beijing routinely exaggerates Russian misinformation about the conflict, not referring to it as an invasion or war in keeping with Russian practices.

In a press release following the first summit session, Li was quoted as emphasizing the importance of China-EU relations, saying he hopes the two will “remain open to each other, steadily expand market access, protect fair competition and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.”

“China hopes that the EU will also provide a sound business environment for Chinese companies investing and growing in Europe,” Li was quoted as saying.

Ahead of the summit, EU officials said they would look for indications that Beijing was ready to cooperate in order to end the war. The meeting takes place amid growing negative sentiment within the bloc fueled by China’s aggressive foreign policies and trade practices.

“The international community, particularly China and the European Union, have a shared responsibility to use their combined influence and diplomacy to end the Russian war in Ukraine and the associated humanitarian crisis,” Michel wrote in a tweet on Twitter.

Behind the EU’s expectations for China lies the possibility of imposing sanctions on Chinese companies that undermine actions against Russia. EU officials indicate that 13.7% of China’s total trade is with the 27-nation bloc, and 12% with the United States, compared to just 2.4% with Russia.

Officials said they also wanted to stress the impact of the war on fertilizer availability and global energy and food prices, which are hurting poorer countries in Africa. And the Middle East harder.

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Other topics include China’s travel ban on MEPs; Beijing’s economic boycott of EU member Lithuania due to its ties with Taiwan; the fate of the stalled investment agreement; and civil and political rights under the authoritarian Communist Party regime in China.

Beijing has dismissed European criticism as biased and motivated by an anti-China agenda pursued by the United States, its main global rival.

Beijing also imposed sanctions on some EU lawmakers last year after the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States imposed coordinated sanctions. Against officials in China for human rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang.

The European Parliament responded by saying it would not ratify a long-awaited trade investment deal as long as sanctions remain in place.

Rights groups have also urged the European Union to take a more assertive stance with China over repression in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and elsewhere and the persecution of Chinese dissidents including. Ilham Tohti, winner of the Sakharov Prize and Sino-Swedish publisher Gui Minhai.

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Moritsugu reported from Beijing.

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Follow all the Associated Press news on developments in the Russian war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.