Xi also urged German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was visiting Beijing, to push for peace talks – saying the international community should ‘create conditions for the resumption of negotiations (and) oppose the use or threat of nuclear weapons.’
Scholz, the first Western leader to visit Beijing since Xi was given his third term as leader, urged Xi to put pressure on Putin to end attacks which have killed civilians and destroyed cities.
‘President Xi and I agree: nuclear threats are irresponsible and incendiary,’ Scholz said after the meeting. ‘By using nuclear weapons, Russia would be crossing a line that the community of states has drawn together.’
Xi Jinping (right) issued a rare rebuke to Moscow as he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing today, warning against using nuclear weapons
Though Xi stopped short of criticising Putin directly, asking Russia to withdraw its troops, or blaming Moscow for the war – his comments none-the-less mark the biggest public rebuke yet delivered to the Kremlin.
Just before Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine on February 24, the two leaders put out a join statement hailing a new era of boundless cooperation and friendship.
In the early days of the war, China’s foreign ministry repeated Russian talking points about NATO expansionism, the West’s ‘Cold War mindset’, and castigated journalists for using the words ‘war’ or ‘invasion’.
But as Moscow’s forces have been mauled on the battlefield China’s tone has changed. At a summit in Uzbekistan in September, Putin was forced to publicly acknowledge that Xi had ‘questions and concerns’ after meeting with him.
Li Keqiang, China’s outgoing premiere who also took part in the talks with Scholz, also said the world ‘cannot afford any further escalation’ in Ukraine.
It comes after Putin warned the West that he is ready to use ‘all means’ to defend occupied territories in Ukraine, adding that he is ‘not bluffing’.
‘[We] hope the crisis ends soon,’ Li said.
Scholz became the first Western leader to visit Xi since he was granted his third term as Communist Party leader, and called on him to pressure Russia to end the war
Putin and Xi announced just before the war broke out that they would be deepening ties but China has since changed its tone, warning Putin of ‘questions and concerns’ over the fighting
During lunch with Scholz, Xi stressed that it is easy to destroy political trust but difficult to rebuild it, and both sides need to take care of it, according to Xinhua.
Earlier, while greeting Scholz at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing, Xi urged the two countries to work more closely on international issues.
Before their lunch of beef strips, prawn and sweet and sour fish, Scholz told Xi that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was creating problems for the rules-based global order, according to a recording of the remarks provided by the German delegation.
During a news conference after his discussion with Li, Scholz said he raised the issue of Taiwan. China claims the island as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
‘Like the U.S. and other countries, we are pursuing a one-China policy. But I have made equally clear that any change in Taiwan’s status quo must be peaceful or by mutual consent,’ he said.
While touching on the human rights of minorities in the Xinjiang region, Scholz denied Germany was meddling in China’s domestic affairs.
Ukraine is currently pushing Russia back across the battlefield, retaking territory in both north and south with the city of Kherson though to be next in the crosshairs (file image)
He also asked Xi, who has supported President Vladimir Putin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, to promote peace.
Scholz’s visit is likely a welcome development for the Chinese leadership, who will be looking to shore up relations with the outside world after Covid.
Scholz is pushing for greater market access at a time when the German economy, Europe’s largest, is fighting decades-high inflation and a looming recession.
The meeting comes ahead of world leaders gathering for the COP27 summit in Egypt a week from now, followed by the G20 summit the following week.
Putin is not expected to attend COP27 and it is unclear whether he will go to the G20, after President Zelensky was given permission to address the summit by video.