China opposes use of nuclear weapons in Europe, Xi tells Scholz in message to Putin

Published on Nov 04, 2022 06:43 PM IST

Olaf Scholz is the first European and G7 leader to meet Xi after the end of the 20th Communist Party of China national congress in October

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (left) meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, China, on Friday. (AP)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (left) meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, China, on Friday. (AP)

Beijing: Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Friday made his most direct remarks on the need to keep Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from escalating, telling visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that China is opposed to the use of nuclear force in Europe.

Scholz on his part asked Xi to exert his “influence” on Russia and stop the ongoing invasion during the two leaders’ first in-person meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday.

“Under the current circumstances (in Ukraine), the international community should…oppose the threat or use of nuclear weapons, advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used and that nuclear wars must not be fought, and prevent a nuclear crisis in Eurasia,” Xi told Scholz.

Scholz is the first European and G7 leader to meet Xi after the end of the 20th Communist Party of China national congress in October.

Xi did not call the ongoing war a Russian invasion but his comments were a message to ally President Vladimir Putin about Beijing’s unease with nuclear threats and the possible fallouts.

Xi’s declaration of a “no limits” friendship with Putin three weeks before the invasion began in February had strained Beijing’s ties with Western countries including Germany and the European Union. Beijing has continued to support Moscow through the war, instead blaming the US-led Nato for instigating Russia.

On his part, the German leader indicated that China could do more to bring the war to an end.

“It’s important for China to exert its influence on Russia,” Scholz was quoted by the Associated Press (AP) as telling the press after his meeting with Xi.

“President Xi and I agree that nuclear threats are irresponsible and highly dangerous. By using nuclear weapons, Russia would cross a line that the international community has drawn together,” he said.

Scholz, according to the AP report, said Russia, China and the West had agreed to respect the UN charter and “principles such as sovereignty and territorial integrity”, which he said Russia was violating in Ukraine.

During their talk, Xi emphasised the need for China and Germany to cooperate more in “times of change and instability” in backdrop of mounting tension between China and Western countries over a range of issues including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It is important that China and Germany respect each other, accommodate each other’s core interests,” Xi said, adding that Beijing and Berlin should “adhere to dialogue and consultation, and jointly resist disturbance from bloc confrontation and attempts to see everything through the prism of ideology”.

Scholz’s visit to Beijing on Friday, the first by a leader of a G7 nation in three years, has also triggered considerable controversy at home for him after it emerged that a Chinese company was set to buy a stake in Hamburg port, giving rise to national security concerns.

Leading German newspaper, Deutsche Welle, has called Scholz’s visit “A day trip to a minefield”.

Scholz also announced an agreement with Beijing, which will allow expatriates in China to use the Covid-19 vaccine from Germany’s BioNTech and pressed Beijing to allow the shot to be made freely available to Chinese citizens, Reuters reported.

Scholz said China and Germany had different approaches to fighting the virus but had a joint responsibility to eliminate it.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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