China's Foreign Ministry also blamed the United States for pushing for a closer NATO military alliance to Russia's borders. One-third of the 27 EU member countries are NATO members.
A virtual summit was held by Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission. Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, sought to get signs from Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and President of China's Communist Party, that Beijing would aid in ending the conflict in Ukraine.
Von der Leyen stated that leaders of both sides "exchanged very clearly opposed views on many subjects but expressed hope that China would use its influence, as a major power or permanent member of U.N. Security Council, to convince Russia to end the war.
She said that China should at least not interfere with Western sanctions against Russia, even though Beijing may not agree to them.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, earlier stated at a daily briefing "We disapprove of solving problems via sanctions. We are even more opposed unilateral sanctions and long arm jurisdiction that have no basis under international law."
Zhao stated that Beijing will not be forced to choose a side in Ukraine's conflict. We must resist the Cold War mindset and confrontation with blocs.
He said that the U.S. was the main instigator and culprit of the Ukraine crisis and that NATO had engaged in five rounds in eastward expansion over the past two decades.
China claims it isn't taking sides in the conflict, but it has made a "no limit" partnership with Russia. It also refuses to condemn the invasion. Beijing regularly amplifies Russian propaganda about the conflict and doesn't refer to it either as an invasion or war, in line with Russian practice.
Michel and Von der Leyen didn't say whether they were given assurances from Chinese officials that Beijing would not give financial or military assistance to Russia. Von der Leyen argued that Russia's war capabilities would be undermined if they support it. This would cause "a significant reputational damage to China" in Europe.
She said, "The business sector is closely watching the events and evaluating what countries are positioning themselves," "This is a matter of trust, reliability, and of course, decisions about long-term investments."
Li was quoted in a press release after the first summit session as affirming the importance China-EU ties. He said that he hoped they would "remain open, steadily expand market accessibility, protect fair competition, and promote trade, investment liberalization, and facilitation."
Li said that China hopes that the EU will provide a solid business environment for Chinese companies investing in Europe.
This meeting was held amid growing negative sentiment in the bloc, fueled by China’s aggressive trade policies.
The EU expects China to pay penalties if they try to undermine Russia's sanctions. Officials from the EU point out that 13.7% China's total trade is with the 27-nation bloc and 12% with America, while only 2.4% of China's is with Russia.
Other topics include China's ban on travel for European Parliament members; Beijing's economic boycott against EU member Lithuania because of its Taiwan relations; fate of stalled investment agreements; and civil rights and political rights under China’s Communist Party dictatorship.
Beijing dismissed European criticisms of Beijing as biased and motivated by the anti-China agenda pursued by America, its main global rival.
Beijing also sanctioned some European Union legislators last year, after the EU, Britain and Canada launched coordinated sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights violations in the western Xinjiang area.
The European Parliament replied by saying that it would not ratify the long-awaited deal for business investment if sanctions continue to be in place.
Officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated Saturday that China will continue to support cease-fire talks, but also noted that China's role in mediation is not something that has been requested by the main players.
Wang Lutong, Director General of Department of European Affairs, stated that the EU will first remove its sanctions against Chinese officials. However, he suggested that a simultaneous lifting of those measures could be considered.
Wang told reporters that Russia could offer the U.S. a promise not to expand NATO and stop the deployment of strategic arms in Ukraine, so "maybe the matter will be sorted."
Rights groups also urged the EU not to repress China in Xinjiang and Tibet, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, and to support Chinese dissidents like Ilham Tohti , winner of the Sakharov Prize, and Gui Minhai , a Chinese-Swedish editor.
Von der Leyen highlighted the positive discussions that took part during their summit and said that the EU and China could cooperate constructively to fight climate change and COVID-19.
Xi was quoted saying that the Ukraine crisis had come on top of a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, and a faltering global recover.
"Against such a background, China and Europe, as two major forces and big markets, great civilizations, should improve communication on their relations, on major issues concerning global development and peace, and play a constructive part in adding stabilizing elements to a turbulent planet," Xi stated in a statement.