EU's Michel urges Xi to use 'influence' on Russia over war with Ukraine

BEIJING, Dec 1 (Reuters) - European Council President Charles Michel once again urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to use the country's "influence" on Russia over its war in Ukraine during a visit to Beijing on Thursday.

The war took up "a lot of time" during their three-hour meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People where trade, climate, human rights, COVID-19 recovery, Xinjiang and Taiwan, were also discussed, Michel told reporters via video link from Beijing.

"I urged President Xi, as we did at our EU-China summit in April, to use his influence on Russia to respect the UN charter," Michel said.

President Xi made it clear that China is not providing weapons to Russia and that nuclear threats are not acceptable, the European Council president said.

Michel's visit comes just a few weeks after Chinese authorities pulled a major trade expo opening ceremony address in which he was set to criticise Russia's "illegal war" in Ukraine and call for reduced EU trade dependency on China.

On the recent wave of protests that have swept across China, Michel said, "We discussed that question as well", but did not offer details of Xi's reaction.

Chinese state media reported earlier in the day that Xi told Michel that China will strengthen strategic communication and coordination with the European Union.

"China will remain open to European companies, and hopes the EU can eliminate interference to provide a fair and transparent business environment for Chinese companies," Xi told Michel, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Neither Xi nor CCTV elaborated on what he meant by "interference".

Xi said China and the EU should strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and complementary advantages, jointly create new growth engines and ensure safety, stability and reliability of industrial supply chains.

The European Council president said he also told Xi of the difficulties faced by EU companies and investors in China.

"On the European side, market access is very open, whilst in China several sectors remain much more closed," Michel said. "We need greater reciprocity. We need a more balanced relationship."

His visit came after European leaders expressed concern at a meeting in October about economic reliance on China.

Michel, who was on a one-day visit to China, also met Premier Li Keqiang and Li Zhanshu, the chairman of the standing committee of the National People's Congress.

Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard, Ethan Wang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Arun Koyyur

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