Beijing's involvement could be a ?game changer? for both sides, an anonymous official told the US broadcaster
China's power and close relationship with Moscow means it may be "the only country on Earth" capable of brokering a deal in Ukraine, a source within the French presidency told CNN on Friday. The reported comment comes ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Beijing next week.
"It's obvious that China is one of the few countries on Earth - maybe the only country in the world - to have a 'game-changer' effect on the conflict, for both sides," the source said.
China has already positioned itself as a potential arbiter of peace in Ukraine, with the ruling Communist Party releasing its 12-point 'Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis' in February. Although described in the Western media as a "peace plan," the document does not offer a step-by-step guide to ending the conflict, and instead lists principles to which Beijing recommends any future deal adheres.
Its 12 points include concessions to both sides. For example, it stresses that "the sovereignty of all countries" must be respected - a nod to Kiev's insistence that its pre-conflict borders be returned, while also insisting that "the legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously," a reference to Moscow's refusal to accept further NATO expansion along its borders.
The Chinese position was welcomed by the Kremlin, but rejected by the US State Department as a "tactical move" to stall the conflict in Russia's favor. In Ukraine, President Vladimir Zelensky said he only agrees with a handful of points in the document.
French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to China on Wednesday to meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang. According to CNN's source, he will attempt to "find a way to identify solutions to end this war in the medium term." However, Reuters reported that Macron will give Xi a stern warning against providing Russia with weapons to use in Ukraine.
"Our message will be clear: There may be a temptation to get closer to Russia, but do not cross that line," an anonymous French diplomat told the news agency.
Whether Beijing will listen is another story. With Washington stepping up its military presence around China and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hinting at diplomatic consequences for Beijing over its relationship with Moscow, Xi signed more than a dozen agreements with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, while the Chinese Defense Ministry said it is ready to strengthen military cooperation with Russia.