POLITICO: Xi at times looked impatient and annoyed

Chinese President Xi Jinping showed no sign of changing his position over Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine after talks with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron who is on state visit to China, POLITICO writes at a report.

Xi took his long-standing line — saying that “all sides” have “reasonable security concerns” — and gave no hint he would use his influence to help end the conflict.

“China is willing to jointly appeal with France to the international community to remain rational and calm,” was as far as the Chinese leader would go during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

During his private meeting with Xi, Macron raised Western concerns that Beijing will deliver weapons to China, according to a French diplomat with knowledge of the talks. But the French leader didn’t seem to get far.

Xi and Macron then stepped in for their joint press conference. The two leaders’ contrasting styles were immediately apparent. Xi read his carefully scripted remarks while staring straight ahead before ceding to Macron. The French leader then proceeded to speak for roughly twice as long as his host — a protocol faux pas that members of Xi’s Chinese entourage noticed.

Xi himself at times looked impatient and annoyed as Macron continued speaking. The Chinese leader heaved several deep sighs and appeared uncomfortable as Macron addressed him directly while apparently ad-libbing on the Ukraine war and their joint responsibility to uphold peace.

Macron also appealed to Xi to explicitly condemn Russia’s operation in Ukraine.

“China and France shall continue to… oppose Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, joining hands in addressing all types of global challenges,” Xi said.

Xi also held talks with Macron and with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was invited by Macron to showcase European unity but who will not take part in many of the events between the Chinese and French leaders.

Indeed, von der Leyen held her own solo press conference as night fell in Beijing. Unencumbered by the formalities of a state visit, the EU leader took questions from reporters and sent several pointed messages. She warned China against aiding Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine: “Arming the aggressor is a clear violation of international law — he should never be armed,” she said. “This would indeed significantly harm the relationship between the European Union and China.”

And she touched a diplomatic third rail: Taiwan. “Nobody should unilaterally change the status quo by force in this region,” she said, alluding to China’s threats toward the self-governing island. “The threat of the use of force to change the status quo is unacceptable.”

Xi emphasized that it is the core of China’s core interests. The Chinese government and the people will never allow anyone to make a fuss about the one-China principle. Anyone who expects China to compromise on the Taiwan question could only be ‘wishful thinking’ and ‘self-defeating’, Xi added.