Irakli Zakareishvili, a Facebook user, whose disinformation claims has been verified by the FactCheck multiple times, made a publication to comment on the visit of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to China. The author says that only the Minister of Ecology met with her. In fact, information in the publication is false. The President of the European Commission had several meetings as part of her visit, including one with the President of China, Xi Jingpin.

The President of the European Commission arrived in Beijing on 5 April 2023. The President of France also visited China together with her. Of note is that Ursula von der Leyen came to China after being invited by President Macron. The European Commission noted at the very beginning that there would be no interference in President Macron’s so-called “state visit” which explains why they flew to China separately and had different official receptions.

On 6 April 2023, Ursula von der Leyen met with the Chinese Premier, Li Qiang. At the meeting, the parties discussed the issues of the intensification of trade ties between the EU and China and once again underscored strong the mutual economic ties and their importance. Later, the President of the European Commission also attended a meeting with the President of the People’s Republic of China together with Emmanuel Macron where the following important challenges were discussed: Russia’s war against Ukraine and China’s policy vis-à-vis this war. After the tripartite meeting, Ursula von der Leyen and Xi Jinping also held a bilateral meeting.

At the press conference afterwards, the President of the European Commission stated that the EU and China have a complex relationship and this is affected by international security challenges such as Russia’s aggressive war in Ukraine: “China's position on this is crucial for the European Union. We count on China not to provide any military equipment, directly or indirectly, to Russia. Because we all know, arming the aggressor would be against international law. And it would significantly harm our relationship.”

Therefore, the claim in the aforementioned publication that Ursula von der Leyen only met with the Minister of Ecology during her visit to China is false. An important part of the visit of the European Commission President was to underline the importance of EU-China relations which was highlighted during the meeting with the Chinese President. At the same time, the visit of von der Leyen and Macron to China; in particular, after the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, aims to highlight China’s role and importance in regard to the war against Ukraine as well as manifest aspirations for strengthening strategic cooperation between Brussels and Beijing.


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