German chancellor urges Xi Jinping to press Russia to end Ukraine war, saying ‘China’s word carries weight’

Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, says he has urged Xi Jinping to press Russia to end its “senseless” war in Ukraine and that the Chinese president has agreed to back a peace conference in Switzerland.

Scholz said after a meeting with Xi in Beijing on Tuesday that “China’s word carries weight in Russia”.

“I have therefore asked President Xi to influence Russia so that Putin finally calls off his senseless campaign, withdraw his troops and ends this terrible war,” he said on social media platform X.

Scholz said Xi had agreed to back a peace conference in Switzerland, which is due to take place in June without Russia in attendance.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, responded on X that China could help deliver a “just peace” for his country by playing an “active role” in the international conference.

Xi, however, appeared to dismiss the meeting in Switzerland, saying efforts towards a peaceful resolution should be recognised by both sides and include equal participation by all parties.

Russia has dismissed any such meeting as meaningless without Moscow’s participation.

China says it is a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict but has been criticised for refusing to condemn Moscow’s offensive.

China and Russia have ramped up economic cooperation and diplomatic contacts in recent years, with their strategic partnership only growing closer since the invasion of Ukraine.

Scholz said in Tuesday’s talks with Xi that “the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and Russia’s arms build-up have a very significant negative impact on security in Europe”, according to a recording provided by the chancellor’s office.

“They directly affect our core interests,” he told Xi, adding they “damage the entire international order because they violate a principle of the United Nations charter”.

Scholz, whose country is Ukraine’s second-biggest military backer after the US, stressed at a news conference later that it was important to “advance the diplomatic efforts that Ukraine is also working very hard on”.

“I believe that this progress is necessary because, in addition to the military support for Ukraine from Germany and its allies, there is also a need for a dialogue between the two countries,” he said.

Chinese state media, in turn, said Xi had highlighted the importance of ties in the face of “increasing risks and challenges”.

State broadcaster CCTV said Xi laid out what state media described as “four principles to prevent the Ukraine crisis from spiralling out of control and to restore peace”.

Xi Jinping, third from right, and Scholz, third from left, with their delegations during the talks in Beijing. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Nations must focus on “the upholding of peace and stability and refrain from seeking selfish gains”, Xi said, as well as “cool down the situation and not add fuel to the fire”, while also aiming to “reduce the negative impact on the world economy”.

The “four principles” echoed a Beijing paper last year that called for a “political settlement” to the conflict, which western countries said could enable Russia to hold much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine.

CCTV also released footage, set to an uplifting classical tune, of the two leaders going for a walk in the picturesque garden of Beijing’s Diaoyutai state guesthouse for “in-depth exchanges” during the more than three hours the two leaders spent together.

The chancellor of the world’s third-largest economy landed in China – the second-largest – on Sunday, accompanied by an extensive delegation of ministers and business executives, for his second visit since taking office.

His whistlestop tour has taken him to the south-western megacity of Chongqing, economic powerhouse Shanghai and now Beijing, but he faces a tough balancing act as he aims to shore up economic ties with Berlin’s biggest trading partner.

The German government has faced pressure to loosen its close economic ties to China, particularly since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine exposed Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.

However, speaking after meeting the premier, Li Qiang, Scholz stressed that “we do not want to decouple from China – we want China to continue to be economically successful”.

“For us, in Germany and Europe, it is about reducing one-sided dependencies, diversifying supply chains and reducing economic risks – a goal that China itself has been pursuing for some time,” Scholz said.

His visit comes as a slew of investigations into state aid for Chinese solar panels, electric cars and wind turbines are under way in Brussels.

Li described the talks with Scholz as open and constructive, according to a statement released by Berlin.

But he stressed that countries should not be accused of having overcapacity and he pushed back against claims that China’s vast renewable energy industry was being helped by government subsidies.

Subsidies were a common practice around the world, he said, adding that the success of the Chinese renewable sector was due to its capabilities rather than state aid.

Reuters contributed to this report


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