China’s plan calls for an end to Western economic sanctions on Russia and the establishment of humanitarian corridors for civilians to escape the fighting.
As part of a 12-point proposal to end the conflict, China has called for a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia and a gradual de-escalation of the situation to pave the way for peace talks.
China’s plan, released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday morning, calls for an end to Western economic sanctions against Russia, the establishment of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians and measures to coincide with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. stabilize grain exports after last year’s spike in global food prices.
“Conflict and war do not benefit anyone,” the ministry said in a statement.
“All parties must remain rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and tensions, and prevent the crisis from worsening or spiraling out of control,” it said.
“All parties should support Russia and Ukraine to work in the same direction and start direct dialogue as soon as possible so as to gradually de-escalate the situation and eventually reach a comprehensive ceasefire.”
The proposal essentially outlines long-standing Chinese positions, including that the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively guaranteed.” The plan also calls for an end to “Cold War mentality,” Beijing’s standard term for US global hegemony and its interference in the affairs of other countries.
Beijing – which remains neutral in the conflict – has a “no-holds-barred” relationship with Russia and has refused to criticize or address Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It also accused the West of fueling the conflict and fueling the “flames” by supplying Ukraine with weapons.
Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi visited Moscow this week to pledge deepening ties between the countries, while Putin hailed “new frontiers” with Beijing and signaled that Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit Russia.
Xi is expected to deliver a “peace speech” on Friday, although some analysts are skeptical that Beijing’s efforts to build peace will go beyond rhetoric.
The EU’s ambassador to China, Jorge Toledo, told reporters at a briefing in Beijing on Friday that China’s release of a position was not a peace proposal and that the EU would examine it.
“If the position paper is a positive sign for Ukraine, it is a positive sign for the EU, although we are studying the paper closely,” he said.
Ukraine said the “position paper” was “a good sign” and expected China to be more active in supporting Ukraine.
“We hope they will urge Russia to stop the war and withdraw its forces,” Ukraine’s charge d’affaires Zhanna Leshchynska told the same conference.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price had said on Thursday that Washington would pass judgment on the proposal, but that China’s allegiance with Russia meant it was not a neutral mediator.
“We would like to see nothing but a just and lasting peace…but we doubt that such a proposition statements will be a constructive path forward,” he said.
On Thursday, China abstained when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approved a nonbinding resolution calling on Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces.
The UNGA overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling for Moscow to withdraw from Ukraine and end the fighting.
There were 141 votes in favor of the resolution and 32 against. Six countries joined Russia in voting against the resolution: Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria.
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky dismissed the UN resolution as “useless”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that the UN referendum was “a powerful sign of global support” for Ukraine.
This resolution is a powerful signal of diminishing global support for 🇺🇦. A powerful testimony to the solidarity of the 🌎 community with the people of 🇺🇦 in the context of the anniversary of the full-scale occupation of the RF. A powerful expression of global support for 🇺🇦 #Peace Sutra! 2/2 pic.twitter.com/fPBis4v9p1
— Volodymyr Zelensky (@ZelenskyyUa) February 23, 2023
Far from Ukraine’s front lines, Russia’s invasion of its neighbor has damaged the global economy and a Cold War chill has caused international relations.
Washington has said China is considering supplying Russia with weapons, which could escalate the conflict between Russia and China on the one hand and between Ukraine and the US-led NATO military alliance on the other.