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French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrapped up meetings with Chinese leaders on Thursday with a plea for help restore peace to Ukraine and a warning not to supply Russia with weapons.

“Arming the aggressor would be against international law, and it would significantly harm our relationship,” von der Leyen said after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Macron said he hoped China would pressure Russia to seek negotiations in the Ukraine conflict. “I know that I can count on you ... to bring Russia to their senses and everyone to the negotiating table,” Macron said during talks with Xi in Beijing, according to the Élysée Palace.

Macron and von der Leyen were the latest European leaders to meet with China’s leadership and discuss their “complex” relations to secure Beijing’s help in ending the war in Ukraine. Paris believes China’s close relationship with Russia means Beijing is well-placed to intervene in the ongoing conflict and potentially broker peace. “I am convinced that China has a major role to play in building peace,” Macron said just ahead of a meeting with Xi. “China is of great importance to Europe with interdependencies and a long shared history,” von der Leyen said at the start of talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang. Both sides have “benefitted immensely” from the relationship, she added in a video posted on Twitter.

“However, EU-China relations have become more complex in recent years,” she added, stressing the need to discuss “all the aspects of [EU-China] relations today.” “This will help both the European Union and China to navigate a complex and volatile geopolitical environment,” von der Leyen added. However, China gave a mixed response to Macron and von der Leyen’s overtures. Xi told Macron he was convinced the French president’s three-day visit could provide “new impulses and a new atmosphere” for Beijing’s relationship with Europe.

As large countries with a tradition of independence, China and France have “the ability and responsibility to overcome differences,” Xi said at the start of their talks. While Xi spoke out in favour of resuming negotiations on the war in Ukraine, his statement repeated much of a February Chinese position paper

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