Nuclear weapons must not be used over Ukraine, China’s president says in clear response to Russia

Chinese president Xi Jinping on Friday warned against using nuclear weapons over Ukraine, in a first clear message to Russia.

“The international community should … jointly oppose the use or threats to use nuclear weapons, advocate that nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought, in order to prevent a nuclear crisis in Eurasia,” Mr Xi said during a meeting with German chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing.

President Xi told Chancellor Scholz that he opposed the use of nuclear force in Europe without naming Russia, in his most direct remarks so far on the escalating crisis.

During their first in-person meeting, Mr Xi called on the international community to “reject the threat of nuclear weapons” and advocate against nuclear war to prevent a “crisis on the Eurasian continent”.

Mr Xi “pointed out that China supports Germany and the EU in playing an important role in promoting peace talks and promoting the building of a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework,” according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Mr Scholz, who travelled with several top German business leaders to Beijing, received a formal welcome from the Chinese president. “I told [the] president that it is important for China to use its influence on Russia,” the German leader said.

Last week, the Kremlin issued a statement in which it said that “in implementing its policy on nuclear deterrence, Russia is strictly and consistently guided by the tenet that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. It added: “Russian doctrinal approaches in this sphere are defined with utmost accuracy, pursue solely defensive goals and do not admit of expansive interpretation.”

According to state-sponsored news agency Xinhua, Mr Xi also told the German chancellor that China supported Europe’s important role in pushing for peace talks over Ukraine, and in creating a “balanced, effective and sustainable” European security framework.

“As large and influential countries, in times of change and turmoil China and Germany should work together all the more, to make more contributions to world peace and development”, Mr Xi said, according to state broadcaster CCTV. “At present, the international situation is complex and volatile,” he added.