EU’s Borrell: Russia-China partnership has limits

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – China’s partnership with Russia has limits, despite rhetoric to the contrary, and Europe should welcome any attempts by Beijing to distance itself from Moscow’s war in Ukraine, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday.

Borrell’s remarks followed a summit this week between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022, just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Borrell said that while China had forged close economic and diplomatic ties with Russia, it had not formed a military alliance with Moscow and had not supplied arms to help Russia with its war in Ukraine.

“This unlimited friendship seems to have some limits,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels.

“China has not crossed any red lines for us.”

Borrell also said he would visit China soon, although the date of the trip is still to be finalised. The visit makes him one of a series of European Union leaders heading for China.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is planning to visit next week while French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the EU’s chief executive, will travel there together the following week.

Borrell said Beijing’s proposals to end the war showed it did not want to fully align with Russia and the EU should welcome this, even if Western officials have made clear they do not regard Beijing’s initiative as a fully fledged peace plan.

He said China wanted to play the role of a “facilitator”, rather than a mediator.

As Russia has welcomed China’s proposals, “China appears in a role that I think we should push,” Borrell said.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray, Editing by William Maclean)