China’s Top Diplomat Urges End to Hostilities Ahead of Moscow Visit

REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi meets with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto (not seen) in Budapest, Hungary, February 20, 2023.

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, who is to visit Russia this week on the one-year anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine, called on Monday for negotiations and peace for the sake of the world and Europe in particular.

“We would like a political solution to provide a peaceful and sustainable framework to Europe,” Wang said ahead of a visit to Moscow during a stop in Hungary, which could result in billions of euros of new Chinese investment in the country.

China regards Russia as an ally, counter-balancing U.S. global power, and has so far refrained from condemning the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine while repeatedly urging peace.

In a Facebook video during a meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, Wang said the world was afflicted by disorder and wars.

“Let me echo what we have just heard (from you) and jointly declare to the world that China and Hungary gladly work together with other peace-loving countries to bring the current hostilities to a halt as soon as possible,” Wang told Szijjarto in a Facebook video during their meeting.

Despite being a member of both NATO and the European Union, Hungary has maintained closer ties to Moscow than other members of those groups.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a nationalist reelected in 2022 for a fourth consecutive term, reiterated on Saturday that being a NATO member was “vital” for Hungary, but said his government would not send arms to Ukraine or sever its economic relations with Moscow.

Orban, who has worked to build closer business ties with China, hosted Wang at a private dinner on Sunday, news agency MTI reported.

Wang reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to closer economic ties, including via China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative.

China’s CATL 300750.SZ plans to build a 7.3 billion euro ($7.8 billion) battery plant in Hungary, Europe’s largest so far, as the world’s biggest electric vehicle battery maker gears up to meet growing demand from global automakers.

Szijjarto was later quoted by Hungarian news agency MTI as saying that four large Chinese corporations could bring additional investments worth 8 billion to 10 billion euros to Hungary. He did not name the companies involved.

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