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Chinese president calls for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rollins

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BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine and said China was “painful to see flames burning in Europe,” state media said in his strongest statement yet in the conflict.

Speaking at a virtual meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Xi said the three countries should jointly support peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported.

CCTV quoted him as saying that Xi described the situation in Ukraine as “alarming” and said the priority should be to prevent it from escalating or “getting out of control”.

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He also said that France and Germany should make efforts to limit the negative effects of the crisis, and expressed concern about the impact of sanctions on the stability of global finance, energy supplies, transportation and supply chains.

China, which has refused to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine or call it an invasion, has repeatedly expressed its opposition to what it calls illegal sanctions against Russia.

China’s friendship with Russia, cemented last month when President Vladimir Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on the same day the two countries declared a “borderless” strategic partnership, has become an embarrassment for China as the war in Ukraine escalates.

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Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” to disarm its neighbor and remove neo-Nazi leaders. Ukraine and its Western allies describe this as a baseless excuse to invade a country of 44 million people.

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Additional reporting by Yu Lun Tian and Tony Munroe; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.