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China’s Xi Warns Putin Against Using Nuclear Weapons In Ukraine – POLITICO

China’s Xi Warns Putin Against Using Nuclear Weapons In Ukraine – POLITICO

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TAIPEI – Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivered his most direct criticism of Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine on Friday, warning the Russian president against resorting to nuclear weapons and urging visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to push for peace talks.

Xi’s warning comes just over a month later Putin threatened Ukraine with a nuclear attack, a sign of how much Ukrainian forces have shaken the Kremlin with their advance against invaders in the east.

The international community, Xi said, should “unitely oppose the use of nuclear weapons or the threat of using nuclear weapons,” according to a statement carried by Xinhua, China’s state news agency. The world should also “advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used, that nuclear war cannot be waged, in order to prevent a nuclear crisis” in Europe or Asia, Xi added.

The Chinese leader, who just weeks ago secured a norm-breaking third term, asked Germany and Europe to “play an important role in calling for peace and facilitating negotiations.”

Xi also called for “improving the humanitarian situation” in crisis areas, especially during winter.

Still, the Chinese leader, who before the war called Putin his best friend, notably stopped short of asking Russia to back down, a key demand for Ukraine and its Western backers. He also failed to mention Putin’s refusal to honor a UN agreement to facilitate Ukraine’s grain exports, with his prime minister instead advocating Chinese grain exports to help ease the food crisis.

In September, Putin publicly admitted for the first time that Xi had “questions” and “concerns” about the war. Shortly after that meeting between the Chinese and Russian leaders, Putin raised interest and floated the idea that nuclear weapons could be used. “In order to defend Russia and our people, we will undoubtedly use all the weapons resources at our disposal,” Putin said. “This is not a bluff.”

“We cannot afford further escalation,” outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a news conference. Turning to Scholz standing next to him, Lee said, “Both of us… we hope the crisis ends soon.”

Scholz wants a job

Xi’s show of opposition to Putin’s nuclear threats was hailed as a major diplomatic victory by Scholz, who has faced weeks of criticism for leaning too far toward Beijing.

“We agreed that the threat of nuclear attacks is irresponsible and dangerous,” Scholz told reporters, referring to his meeting with Xi. “I told President Xi how important it is for China to exert its influence on Russia.”

Scholz brought with him a delegation of large companies, and he recently approved a contract with a Chinese state-owned company for the purchase of part of a terminal in the strategically important port of Hamburg.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Great Hall in Beijing | Pool photo by Kay Nietfeld via Getty Images

Indeed, during opening remarks at his meeting with Xi, Scholz again recalled his earlier career as mayor of Hamburg, while urging Xi to deepen trade ties with Germany, the EU’s largest economy.

Scholz cited few results, apart from an agreement for expats – not local Chinese – to take BioNTech coronavirus vaccines in China, and promised cooperation on climate change and disease prevention.

Taiwan tensions

Before the news conference drew to a close without a single question from reporters, Scholz outlined the escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

“Any change to Taiwan’s status quo can only happen through mutual agreement and peaceful means,” he said, adding that he also raised the issue of human rights violations against China’s Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

Scholz alluded to Beijing’s economic coercion against Lithuania as the Baltic country forged closer ties with Taiwan, saying: “It is also important to be clear: economic measures against individual EU member states are aimed against the entire EU internal market, and sanctions against EU parliamentarians they are also unacceptable to us.”

Although Scholz did not emphasize the trade focus of his trip, his Chinese host made sure to send a clear message to German companies, which China sees as a major source of stability in the otherwise volatile EU-China relationship.

“We continue to stand ready to help Germany access our market,” Premier Li told reporters at a press conference, calling for “firm and stable” relations with Germany. “We support a multipolar world, free trade and want to meet our partner equally.”





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