This Thursday, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenbegan in Beijing a series of meetings with Chinese leaders, including the head of state Xi Jinpingin talks that could mark a new course in the bloc’s relations with China after years of tense diplomatic ties.

Xi said China is willing to enhance strategic mutual trust with the European Union, while Macron called on the Chinese president to persuade Russia to help end the war in Ukraine, following Moscow’s ordered invasion of its neighbor on February 24, 2022. He also asked him to do “enter reason” to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Russian aggression in Ukraine has affected stability and ended decades of peace in Europe. I know I can count on you – under the two principles I just mentioned – to bring Russia to reason and bring everyone to the table of talks”, said the French head of state.

For his part, Xi commented: “Regarding the Ukrainian crisis, China stands for peace negotiations and seeks a political solution. China is ready to join the French side’s call on the international community to maintain rational containment and avoid actions that further worsen the crisis or even get out of control.”

After his meeting with von der Leyen, the Chinese head of state said that his country and the EU should “establish a correct mutual understanding and avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments”, as reported CCTV. Earlier, both Macron and the president of the European Commission met with the newly appointed Chinese premier, Li Qiang, who greeted the French president in the Great Hall of the People, a cavernous building west of Tiananmen Square that is often used for ceremonial events before summits with Xi.

Li then met von der Leyen, who, shortly before what is his first trip to China since taking office in 2019, said Europe must reduce both diplomatic and economic risks with a China that has recently toughened its stance. “Both Europe and China have benefited immensely from this relationship, however EU-China relations have become more complex in recent years and it is important that we discuss together all aspects of our relations today,” Von der Leyen argued before the meeting. Li stated that the partnership with the EU and France is in “a new starting point” and that both parties must adhere to the “mutual respect and win-win cooperation”.