China's surprise move after Scott Morrison attack: 'Worrying'

China President Xi Jinping has issued his strongest statement yet on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison ramped up his rhetoric towards Beijing.

Mr Morrison again went on the offensive against Beijing, saying China held the greatest power when it came to influencing Russia's actions.

“No country will have a bigger impact on concluding this terrible war in Ukraine than China," he said, taking questions after a speech at the Lowy Institute on Monday.

"So long as they have a bet each way on this, then I fear the bloodshed will continue."

China has been reluctant to condemn the actions of its friend Russia, with Xi largely relying on his foreign ministry to deliver Beijing's consistent message that while it did not want to see conflict escalate, the matter was "very complex" and US-led NATO had in part provoked such an outcome.

Scott Morrison pictured left in a navy suit, Xi Jinping pictured right with gelled hair and a maroon tie.
Scott Morrison has called on Xi Jinping to do more to discourage Russia's actions in Ukraine. Source: AAP/ Getty

Xi says Ukraine situation is 'worrying'

On Tuesday, during a video summit with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Xi gave his most direct address yet on the conflict, revealing his ambitions to jointly push for peace talks, stressing the situation in Ukraine was "worrying".

He said it was vital to prevent the conflict from "getting out of control" and that China was willing to work with Germany, France and other countries to ensure it did not happen.

However Xi said he feared the impact of sanctions placed on Russia on the global economy.

"This is in the interest of no one," he said, according to Chinese state media.

Xi facing a 'diplomatic cul de sac'

Tony Walker, Vice-Chancellor's fellow at La Trobe University and former Beijing bureau chief for the Financial Times, said Xi had now found himself in a difficult position.

"As much as this is Putin’s war, it is also Xi’s most challenging and confounding moment on a world stage," he wrote for The Conversation.

Mr Walker argues China's insistence on refusing to interfere with the sovereign affairs of other countries has proven contradictory.

He said Xi may shield himself from blame as he faces being placed in a "diplomatic cul de sac" after befriending Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Xi’s alignment with a Russian miscalculation is clearly not in his or China’s interests," he said.

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