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Pushing for ‘complete victory on the battlefield’ won’t end Ukraine war, China’s EU ambassador says

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 09/02/2023 Hayley Wong
  • Fu Cong tells a panel event in Brussels that Beijing wants the conflict to be resolved through negotiation and warns supplying arms might escalate the conflict
  • China's perceived support for Russia's invasion has damaged an already fractious relationship and Fu previously said it put Beijing in a 'difficult position'

China's new ambassador to the European Union has expressed concern about the possible escalation of the war in Ukraine, saying neither side should seek "complete victory on the battlefield".

"We don't believe giving weapons would actually solve the problem," Fu Cong said. "I think the right place to stop the fight should be on the negotiation table."

The envoy said Beijing was keen to rebuild ties with Europe but also highlighted Beijing's red lines on Taiwan by warning any actions that contravened the one-China principle would "fundamentally change or shake the foundation of bilateral relations".

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At an event hosted by the European Policy Centre on Wednesday, Fu insisted that China's stance on the war had been consistent and it was "not true" to say it was not trying to help resolve the conflict, citing its strong opposition to the use of nuclear weapons as an example.

Soon after arriving in Brussels in December, Fu told the South China Morning Post that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had put Beijing "in a very difficult position" and was "becoming a problem for our bilateral relations with the EU".

"We are quite concerned about the possible escalation of this conflict. We don't believe giving weapons would actually solve the problem," he said.

"We are quite concerned about people talking about winning and 'complete victory on the battlefield'. I think the right place to stop the fight should be on the negotiation table."

Ukraine war: G7 weighs sanctioning Chinese firms for aiding Russia's military

China's refusal to condemn Russia's invasion of its neighbour and suspicions in some quarters that it is tacitally supporting Moscow has become another source of tension in its relationship with the EU following tit-for-tat sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The Russian foreign ministry's recent announcement that Chinese President Xi Jinping had been invited to visit Moscow early this year sent a strong message to the rest of the world that they were working "closely together", said Shada Islam, a senior adviser at European Policy Centre, who moderated the session.

Fu did not confirm that Xi would visit, but said frequent exchanges between the leaders was "natural" and the Russia-China relations did not need to be dominated by one issue, although the war would be an "unavoidable subject" to touch on.

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He also said Taiwan must be dealt with "urgently" and insisted that the "Ukrainian crisis" could not be compared with the "Taiwan issue" because the island was "part of China".

"I must say that the one-China principle is a red line for us. I must repeat it very strongly," Fu added.

He looked back to 1975, when the European Economic Community, the earlier version of the EU, first established diplomatic relations with China, saying: "They committed that their member states will take positions on Taiwan issues that are acceptable to China."

China warns of weapons 'pouring into Ukraine battlefields'

But he added that now "what we are seeing is some erosion of these basic commitments", following a string of visits by parliamentarians from various EU members and efforts by some governments to strengthen their relationship with Taipei.

Fu said he wanted to improve EU-China relations and suggested that a "simultaneous move" to lift sanctions might be the first step towards further measures such as reviving a stalled investment deal.

"We do not want to go back to history to say who is right or who is wrong to impose sanctions," he added.

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Fu also commented on reports that the Netherlands had agreed to tighten controls on the export of chip manufacturing equipment to support American efforts to starve China of supplies.

He said this was not in either country's economic interest but was an attempt by the United States to block or decouple China from the global supply chain.

"I don't think the world should allow this dangerous tendency to develop," he added.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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