Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrives in China on Tuesday.
Foreign media have speculated that apart from paving the way for Russia President Vladimir Putin's visit to China next month and promoting Sino-Russian economic and trade cooperation, Lavrov will be sure to discuss the escalating tension in Ukraine's eastern region with the Chinese side.
How should China discuss this thorny issue with Russia and make a public statement?
It's a test of China's diplomatic wisdom and power.
Ukraine's eastern region is different from the Crimea. Secession of the region from Ukraine strikes a direct blow to territorial integrity guaranteed by international law.
But the eastern region crisis is not isolated. It can be traced back to "revolutions" and turbulence that repeatedly haunted Ukraine in recent years.
Moscow led the joining of Crimea into Russia with resolution, while the uprising in Ukraine's eastern region is more spontaneous. But the attitude of Moscow and Kiev could affect the process of the crisis.
Moscow so far made no further actions except for deploying troops along the border region and warning Kiev not to take military actions. There is no further clear-cut position being stated. Putin is seemingly hesitant. Although Kremlin has a great influence on the public in the eastern region, it cannot give direct orders.
There aren't legitimate Russian troops stationed in Ukraine's eastern region. It's difficult to come up with an internationally recognized independence procedure.
China should avoid a hasty position over the issue. It needs to take the following principles and considerations into account.
To begin with, we should advocate the safeguarding of territorial integrity in the post-Crimea era.
As long as the possibility exists, we'd like to urge it so.
We also believe the solution to the Ukraine crisis
should represent the interests of all parties including Kiev, Russians in the eastern region and Moscow, as well as the West.
The Sino-Russian relationship should be given top priority when Beijing dwells on its stance over the Ukraine situation. Beijing and Moscow should make concerted efforts to avoid divergence underscored through the Ukraine crisis.
Major powers except China have been embroiled in the Ukraine crisis, highlighting the significance of China's neutrality. Beijing needs to play a more active role in propelling peace.
China needs to secure a balance between not supporting the independence of Ukraine's eastern region and avoiding isolating Moscow with the West. Such a stance is not an indication of ambiguity but a unique distinction.
China has never served as an influential mediator in major international conflicts so far. We may be closest to that role in the Ukraine crisis. Read more in Special Coverage: