A file image of French President Emmanuel Macron. EFE-EPA/FILE/Aurelien Morissard / POOL MAXPPP OUT

Macron arrives in Beijing for Ukraine, trade talks with Xi

Beijing, Apr 5 (EFE).-French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beijing Wednesday on a three-day visit for trilateral talks with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and European Commission head Von der Leyen, with the Russian war in Ukraine top of the agenda.

The plane carrying the French president and his delegation landed at the Beijing airport around 3:15 p.m. local time. The three leaders will meet on Thursday.

The European leaders will hold bilateral meetings with Xi and the newly appointed prime minister Li Qiang.

Macron will have a meeting with Zhao Leji, the head of China’s top legislative body.

Von der Leyen will meet with the president of the EU-China Chamber of Commerce and representatives of European companies.

The trip to Beijing by European leaders comes after Spanish President Pedro Sánchez visited China last week.

The visits follow Xi’s trip to Russia and his talks with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month.

China has maintained an ostensibly neutral stance over the Ukrainian war, reiterating over and again that it sought to resolve the conflict peacefully.

During his friendly visit to Moscow, the Chinese president said he had shared a peace plan with Putin that most Western countries viewed as more skewed towards Russia.

Macron and Von der Leyen will be able to hear first-hand the approach and position of the Chinese president on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, besides explaining the European objective of ending the war.

The aim of the trip is “to try to bring China to our side to put pressure on Russia, so that it does not use chemical weapons and nuclear weapons obviously, but also to do everything to stop the conflict and return to the negotiating table,” Macron told reporters after a two-day EU summit in Brussels, days before the visit.

According to European sources, EU leaders see it as “positive” that China is getting involved in the situation and said they would continue to push for Beijing to engage in talks with Kyiv as well.

Significantly, United States President Joe Biden spoke with Macron over the phone to discuss his travel to China.

“They also reiterated their steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” a White House statement said.

The European leaders will discuss climate change, food security, and environmental issues with Xi.

On Friday, Macron will travel to Guangzhou City to meet students and Chinese investors before another dinner with Xi.

The local media has highlighted that it would be the first time a French president visited the city, affirming that the delegation has economic interests in the region.

They also highlight that traveling to cities other than Beijing is a custom for Macron, having visited Xian and Shanghai during his previous stays in China. EFE