Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö met with China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday for talks on bi-lateral relations, EU developments and international issues, including Chinese concerns about North Korea.
During those discussions, President Xi let it be understood that North Korea should tone down its aggressive rhetoric.
“He made it very clear that China is concerned about this development and hopes that this sharp and hard exchange would end, so that worse consequences are avoided, which in their view, too, would be to no one’s benefit,” President Sauli Niinistö told the media following Saturday’s discussions.
Niinistö was unwilling to speculate whether these comments signal a change in China’s position on North Korea.
“China clearly wants the situation to calm down. The message was clear,” said Niinistö.
Human rights in China were not on the agenda of the talks, but the issue was touched upon in connection with Finnish-Chinese cooperation in legal affairs. According to Niinistö, President Xi said that China is open to influence.
“They are open to this discussion and are willing to learn if there is something to learn. I think, however, that is a clear message,” said Niinistö.
President Niinistö is the first EU leader to have met with the new Chinese president since he took office last month.
“President Xi gives the impression of being very open. That makes discussion easy,” he summed up.