China has been accused on several occasions by the Western bloc of taking a pro-Russian position on the invasion of Ukraine. Beijing claims, however, that he is a strictly neutral player. Shortly after the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, assured that he had intelligence information that suggested that Beijing was “considering” send weapons to Russia –something that the Asian country denies–, China published a document of 12 clarifying its position on the war, which it describes as a “crisis”.
“[El documento] It was born as a compilation of China’s positions in the last year regarding the conflict and not as a formal peace plan, but the fact that Russia and Ukraine have shown a certain acquiescence has caused the Chinese elites to try to use it as such ”, points Ines Arca researcher at the CIDOB think tank specializing in China.RELATED
Stein Tønnesson, a researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, maintains that the so-called ‘peace plan’ “has nothing to say about what a political agreement can look like”. “The 12 points consist mainly of measures to mitigate the damage of war. In addition, he suggests establishing dialogues to lay the foundations for a ceasefire and a political agreement at a later stage, ”he tells elDiario.es. “Focusing on mitigation and opening channels for dialogue is a wise decision instead of trying to formulate a framework for an agreement. Any attempt to establish the content of a political agreement would now be useless”.
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, travels to Beijing next week in the middle of a Chinese attempt to mediate in the war in Ukraine. The Chief Executive said this Thursday in Brussels about his upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping: “It is important to know his position on peace in Ukraine and tell him that it will be the Ukrainians themselves who will establish the conditions for that peace when it arrives.” ”.
That is one of the objectives of Pedro Sánchez’s visit to Xi Jinping, which will take place just two weeks after the Chinese president has been with Vladimir Putin. The Spaniard will be the first Western leader to hold a meeting of these characteristics after that meeting in Moscow and, later, Emmanuel Macron will do so.
What does the Chinese document say?
officially titled ‘China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis’the document is made up of 12 points:
- Respect the sovereignty of all countries. “International law must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be defended.” Although he does not explicitly mention Ukraine, the Chinese foreign minister has in the past noted that this also applies to “the Ukrainian question.”
- Abandon the Cold War mentality. “The security of a country should not be sought at the expense of the rest,” the document states. “The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs,” he adds in a clear reference to NATO.
- Cease-fire. “All parties should support a return to dialogue as soon as possible to gradually de-escalate the situation and reach a ceasefire.”
- Resume peace negotiations. “Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution,” he points out, adding that the international community should promote such negotiations and help the parties open the door to a political agreement.
- Solve the humanitarian crisis.
- Protect civilians and prisoners of war.
- Keeping Nuclear Plants Safe: “China opposes attacks on nuclear plants or other nuclear facilities.”
- Reduce strategic risks: “You should be against the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”
- Facilitate grain exports.
- Abandon unilateral sanctions. “Maximum pressure cannot solve the matter. They only create problems.”
- Keep the industry and supply chains stable.
- Promote post-conflict reconstruction: “China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this effort.”
What has Russia said?
President Xi Jinping has visited Moscow this week in a sign of strengthening bilateral relations and the two have discussed the Chinese position. “Many of the provisions of the peace plan raised by China are in line with the Russian vision and can be taken as the basis of a peaceful agreement when the West and Kiev are ready for it,” Putin statedblaming the rest of the invasion.
When Beijing released the document, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova he claimed: “Russia is open to achieving the objectives of the special military operation by political and diplomatic means”, always recognizing the “new territorial realities” in Ukraine.
“The fact that China starts talking about Ukraine is not bad, but the question is what is after the words”, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said.. “Some of the Chinese proposals respect international law and I think we can work on it with China. Why not? We would like to have a meeting with Beijing,” he added. Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, has pointed out that “The first and most important point for implementation The successful outcome of the plan is the capitulation or withdrawal of the Russian occupation forces.
Although Xi has not met his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodimir Zelensky, there are contacts between the two parties. Despite the strengthening of the relationship between Beijing and Moscow, Ukraine has avoided openly criticizing the Asian giant as it has done with other countries. Ukraine, for its part, has already published its own 10 point peace planwhich has some common aspects with Chinese.
“kyiv understands that China has more power to influence Russia than any other country. Kiev will have been pleased to see how Chinese proposals to mitigate the damage benefit Ukraine,” says Tønnesson. “So kyiv is likely to be open to dialogue if China can convince Putin to agree to these mitigation measures.”
“To mediate you need a country that is not an actor in the conflict,” says Arco. “If we accept the idea that China is totally on Russia’s side, it could not play this game and Ukraine is interested in having a country like China to mediate,” he adds. In addition, the expert explains that Ukraine is very interested in the role of China in the future reconstruction. “If we really see a call between Xi and Zelensky in the next few days, that would be a change or an example that Beijing wants to have that point of mediation,” she concludes.
What is the position of the western bloc?
“Putin applauds it, so how could it be a good thing?” US President Joe Biden wondered. “I have not seen anything in the plan that indicates that there is something that is beneficial to anyone other than Russia”, added. However, blinken stressed that there are “elements” of the Chinese document that the US has long supported, such as “the independence and territorial integrity of all countries, nuclear security, resolving the humanitarian crisis, protection of civilians…”.
Tønnesson maintains that “the measures proposed in the peace plan make a lot of sense and this should be recognized by the US and NATO.” In this sense, the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, has said that the plan includes “some positive aspects”, but affirmed that “China does not have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine”. “It is Ukraine that has to decide what are the acceptable conditions for a peaceful solution. China therefore has to start to understand the Ukrainian perspective and come into direct contact with Zelensky.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated in february: “It is not about a peace plan, but about principles that they shared. You have to see them in a specific context, and that context is that China has already taken sides by signing, for example, an unlimited friendship just before the invasion.”
Arco maintains that the context of confrontation between China and the US may be an obstacle to a possible mediation by Beijing: “Any mediation will have to take into account the position of the West and for this reason it runs the risk of not being satisfactory.”