China’s plan calls for an end to Western sanctions on Russia and the creation of humanitarian corridors for civilians to escape the fighting.
China has called for a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia and a gradual de-escalation of the situation that paves the way for peace talks, as part of a 12-point proposal to end the conflict.
China’s plan, released by the State Department Friday morning and coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calls for an end to Western sanctions against Russia, the creation of humanitarian corridors for evacuating civilians, and steps to ensure grain exports after unrest caused global food prices to spike last year.
“Conflict and war do not benefit anyone,” the ministry said in a statement.
“All parties must exercise rationality and restraint, avoid fanning flames and exacerbating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating or even spiraling out of control,” the statement said.
“All parties must support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as soon as possible, in order to gradually de-escalate the situation and eventually reach a comprehensive ceasefire.”
The proposal elaborates on China’s long-established positions, including effectively guaranteeing “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries.” The plan also called for an end to the “Cold War mentality,” Beijing’s standard term for what it views as global hegemony by the United States and its interference in the affairs of other countries.
Beijing – which claims to be neutral in the conflict – has a “borderless” relationship with Russia and has refused to criticize or even refer to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as such. It also accused the West of fomenting the conflict and “fanning the flames” by supplying weapons to Ukraine.
Wang Yi, Beijing’s top diplomat, visited Moscow this week, vowing to forge a deeper relationship between the two countries, while Putin hailed “new frontiers” in relations with Beijing and noted that Chinese leader Xi Jinping would visit Russia.
Xi is expected to deliver a “peace speech” on Friday, though some analysts have questioned whether Beijing’s efforts to act as peacemaker will outpace the speech.
The European Union’s ambassador to China, Jorge Toledo, told reporters at a news conference in Beijing on Friday that China had issued a position paper, not a peace proposal, and the EU would study it.
He said, “If the position paper is a positive sign for Ukraine, it is a positive sign for the European Union, although we are studying the paper closely.”
Ukraine called the position paper a “good sign” and said it expected China to be more active in its support for Ukraine.
“We hope they will also urge Russia to stop the war and withdraw its forces,” Ukrainian Chargé d’Affairs Zhanna Leschinska told the same news conference.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier Thursday that Washington would reserve judgment on the proposal, but that China’s loyalty to Russia meant it was not a neutral intermediary.
He said, “We would like to see nothing more than a just and lasting peace…but we doubt that reports of a proposal like this would be a constructive way forward.”
On Thursday, China abstained from the vote when the United Nations General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution calling on Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces.
The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the resolution, which demanded that Moscow withdraw from Ukraine and stop the fighting.
There were 141 votes in favour, with 32 abstentions. Six countries joined Russia in voting against the resolution: Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, dismissed the UN resolution as “unhelpful”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that the UN vote was “a strong sign of unwavering global support for Ukraine”.
This decision is a strong signal of unwavering global support for 🇺🇦. Strong evidence of the solidarity of the “society with” people in the context of the anniversary of large-scale Russian aggression. A strong manifestation of global support for 🇺🇦 #PeaceFormula! 2/2 pic.twitter.com/fPBis4v9p1
– Володимир Зеленський (ZelenskyyUa) February 23, 2023
Far from Ukraine’s front lines, Russia’s invasion of its neighbor has wreaked havoc on the global economy, and the Cold War has chilled international relations.
Washington said China was considering providing weapons to Russia, a move that could intensify the conflict into a confrontation between Russia and China on one side and Ukraine and the US-led NATO alliance on the other.
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