China is beginning to take a more active role in promoting a solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, calling for Europe to negotiate a deal directly with Russia.

In a virtual summit Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Chinese President Xi Jinping supported France's and Germany’s position for a stronger European security framework.

European security is vital for Beijing’s economic interests. China became the EU’s largest trade partner last year, and Chinese state enterprises have stepped up investments across Europe. As a result, an escalation of the conflict will eventually hurt these interests.

The outcome of the Russia-Ukraine war has implications for China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, so Beijing wants to make sure that it’s part of the process that will shape the end of the war.

The summit was held about a week after President Xi spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting that China has already assumed the role of mediator between Russia and the EU.

It may not have been coincidental timing that the summit came the same day President Joe Biden banned Russian oil imports, upping the sanctions against Russia.

But its European allies don’t seem to be willing to go along with the U.S., as they are too dependent on Russian oil and gas for their energy needs. This policy rift between the U.S. and its allies supports China’s position that sanctions against Russia won’t be effective.

President Xi laid the groundwork for the dialogue between the EU and Russia over Ukraine.

“China maintains that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter must be fully observed, the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously, and all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be supported,” Xi said.

The statement appears to contradict Beijing’s position during a recent U.N. meeting, when China abstained from a resolution that condemned Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

China has demonstrated little respect for the territorial integrity of the nations bordering the South China Sea. From the Philippines to Vietnam and Malaysia, Beijing has been building artificial islands in the Philippines' territories and conducting military drills in Vietnam's territories, sometimes acting against rulings by international tribunals. Such moves undermine its credibility as a mediator for peace between Russia and Ukraine.