China Does an Awkward Dance with Europe Over Russia-Ukraine War

China’s top diplomat set out on a three-nation trip Tuesday to persuade European leaders that they can do business with Beijing, even as the Chinese tried to keep faith with their “unlimited partnership” with a Russia that has plunged Europe into war.

But arriving in Berlin, Foreign Minister Qin Gang was quickly confronted about the war in Ukraine.

“Neutrality means taking the side of the aggressor, and that is why our guiding principle is to make it clear that we are on the side of the victim,” the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, declared at a joint news conference after they met. Beijing, she said, could be doing much more to help bring the war to an end.

Mr. Qin defended his nation’s approach. “The Ukraine issue is of high complexity,” he insisted. “China did not cause this, nor is it a party, but we are committed to peace negotiations.”

He said that China would continue to seek a cease-fire and pledged that it would “neither watch the fire from the other bank nor add fuel to the fire.”

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