The German foreign minister has urged China to pressure Moscow to end the war in Ukraine, saying no other country had “more influence on Russia”.
Speaking on Friday after a meeting with her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Beijing, Annalena Baerbock said she also expressed concerns about human rights issues and escalating tensions with Taiwan.
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Her visit comes a week after that of French President Emmanuel Macron and the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who also pushed China to play a greater role in resolving the Ukraine crisis.
“It is good that China has signalled its commitment to a solution but I have to say frankly that I wonder why the Chinese position so far does not include a call on the aggressor Russia to stop the war,” Baerbock said.
After the meeting, China announced that Defence Minister Li Shangfu would visit Russia on Sunday for a four-day visit, at the invitation of his counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
China has positioned itself as a neutral mediator throughout the conflict, but its refusal to condemn the invasion and a recent trip to Moscow by President Xi Jinping have led Western powers to accuse it of favouring its traditional ally.
Qin said on Friday that China believed “the only way to resolve the Ukraine crisis is to promote peace and talks”.
“The Ukrainian crisis has developed up to this day, and the lessons are profound, worthy of deep reflection by all parties. Territory is indivisible, and security is also indivisible,” he said.
“Without recognition of the security interests of a particular party, crises and conflicts are inevitable,” he added.
Human rights, Taiwan concerns
Meanwhile, Baerbock said she told her counterpart of Germany’s concerns that human rights were being “curtailed” in China with the “scope for civil society engagement” also shrinking.
On Monday, China sentenced two prominent human rights lawyers to more than a decade in jail.
Xu Zhiyong and fellow campaigner Ding Jiaxi were convicted of “subversion of state power” following closed-door trials.
Baerbock directly referred to Xinjiang, referencing a United Nations report that detailed a string of rights violations against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the province, including “credible” allegations of widespread torture.
However, China’s foreign minister dismissed human rights concerns, saying any friction was centred on a fight against separatism.
On Taiwan, Baerbock said military escalation would be a “horror scenario” for the entire world.
She reiterated Germany’s One China policy, according to which Beijing is recognised as the only legitimate government of China and that Berlin does not maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Baerbock stressed, however, that a change of the status quo by force would not be acceptable.
Earlier this week, China concluded three days of live-fire drills near the self-governed island in response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s recent trip to the United States.
Beijing insists that Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, is part of its territory, even though Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949.