China has called for a ceasefire and return to talks in Ukraine as Beijing tries to position itself as a peacemaker in the conflict on the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday issued a 12-point statement on its position on a “political solution” to the war in Ukraine, although many of the measures reiterated Beijing’s earlier talking points.
Chinese diplomats have been engaged in a difficult balancing act over the war, seeking to appear neutral despite Beijing’s close ties to Moscow, while blaming Washington and NATO for fueling the conflict.
“Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solutions to the Ukraine crisis,” the Foreign Ministry said in the document, which did not directly call for war. “All efforts conducive to a peaceful resolution of the crisis must be encouraged and supported.”
Beijing’s call for a ceasefire is unlikely to gain support in Kiev until Russia withdraws from areas it occupies, an issue not addressed in the 12-point position paper.
Zhanna Leshshinska, charge d’affaires of Ukraine’s embassy in Beijing, ruled out a ceasefire that would freeze the conflict on the current front line.
“Our view is that Russia should withdraw all forces from the territory of Ukraine unconditionally,” he told reporters in Beijing on Friday, referring to Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, which include Crimea.
The head of the EU delegation to China, Jorge Toledo, told a joint press conference that the Chinese position was “not a peace proposal”.
Leschinska added that China should show its neutrality by getting Russia to withdraw its forces and increase its engagement with Ukraine. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since the Russian invasion, but has spoken with Putin several times.
Shi Yinhong, a professor at Renmin University, said Beijing may have known that neither side would heed its proposal. “China feels [it] “It is necessary at this moment to reiterate its neutrality in the war, not only to criticize NATO, but also to save some international influence by distinguishing itself from Russia’s behavior,” he said.
China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, made little progress in presenting the proposals when he met with Putin on Wednesday. In a speech to the nation this week, he insisted the war was a threat to Russia’s “existence.”
Beijing’s paper warned against using nuclear weapons in war and called for Ukraine’s nuclear power plants to be protected. UN It demanded an end to sanctions not approved by the Security Council and a reference to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.
The peace proposal comes as Washington accuses Beijing of considering sending weapons and other lethal aid to Russia to bolster Putin’s war aims. A year into the conflict, Russian and Ukrainian forces have faced a series of bloody skirmishes in Ukraine’s east, with neither side holding a clear upper hand, prompting calls among some Chinese nationalists to increase aid to Russia.
Hu Xijin, former editor of the nationalist Chinese newspaper Global Times, defended Beijing’s reluctance to provide direct military aid.
China has already provided “tremendous support to Russia’s sanctioned economy” by increasing energy and food imports and maintaining the flow of Chinese “electronics, cars and microprocessors,” Hu said this week.
Chinese customs data showed imports from its northern neighbor rose 43 percent to $114 billion last year as it increased purchases of Russian oil, gas and coal, while exports rose 13 percent to $76 billion.
Additional reporting by Maiqi Ding and Nian Liu in Beijing