China conveys clear position, maintains strategic resolve over Ukrainian regions' referenda
Published: Sep 23, 2022 08:54 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

One day before the referenda held by four regions in Ukraine on whether to join Russia started, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba conveyed clearly China's position on the Ukraine crisis, and Chinese analysts said China has always adhered to its position, maintained strategic resolve, and will not be affected by external pressure. 

Wang met with Kuleba on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. In their meeting, Wang said Chinese President Xi Jinping has pointed out that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be fully observed, the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously, and all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be supported.

This is China's most authoritative exposition on the Ukraine issue, and it is also China's fundamental principle in viewing and handling this issue, Wang said, adding that as a responsible major country and permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has always been committed to promoting peace talks, never stands idly by, never adds fuel to the fire, and never takes advantage of the situation for its own self-interest.

China always stands on the side of peace, and will continue to play a constructive role, he said.

Kuleba said Ukraine attaches importance to China's international status and important influence, and expects China to play an important role in alleviating the current crisis, adding that Ukraine is willing to conduct dialogue and negotiations in line with its national interests.

Ukraine has always pursued the one-China policy, supported China in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and looks forward to strengthening exchanges and cooperation with China in various fields, he said.

Regarding the referenda, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underscored that any annexation of a state's territory by another state resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law. 

In response to Guterres's comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at Friday's media briefing that China's position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We believe that all countries deserve respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, that the legitimate security concerns of any country should be taken seriously, and that support should be given to all efforts that are conducive to peacefully resolving the crisis, Wang Wenbin said, adding that he calls on the parties concerned to properly address differences through dialogue and consultation. China stands ready to work with members of the international community to continue to play a constructive part in de-escalation efforts. 

On Wednesday, Wang Yi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, during which Wang said the two sides should deepen strategic cooperation, advance high-quality practical cooperation, take an active part in global governance, work together to meet global challenges, promote a fairer international order, oppose unilateralism and power politics, and uphold justice for developing countries as well as small- and medium-sized countries.

As permanent members of the UN Security Council and responsible major countries, China and Russia should play their due roles, Wang said.

According to TASS, Wang also said that no one can deprive Russia of the important role it plays at the UN.

Noting that China will continue to hold an objective and fair stance to promote peace talks on the Ukraine issue, Wang Yi said China hopes that the related parties will not give up on dialogue, and will strive to address security concerns through peace talks.

Lavrov expounded on Russia's position on the issue, stressing that security is indivisible and that Russia is still willing to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation.

Cui Heng, an assistant researcher at the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Friday that China has adhered to its principle of stressing countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity, which means we respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries.

"Just like China's position on Crimea in 2014, we always adhere to the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty," Cui said. 

In response to questions on whether China would recognize the referendum results in Crimea, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at a media briefing on March 17, 2014 that China always respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries. The Crimean issue should be resolved politically within the framework of law and order, and all parties should exercise restraint and refrain from taking actions that may exacerbate tensions.

Chinese analysts said China's consistent positions showed that China as a responsible major country has maintained strong strategic resolve and its position will not be affected by external pressure. 

A Beijing-based expert who asked for anonymity told the Global Times that the Ukraine crisis may enter a new phase, with Russia making preparations in two directions - maximizing the use of the card of natural gas deals since many European countries will soon enter the harshest winter, and expanding operations of mechanized troops and preparing to improve its combat scale. 

Which direction the current situation goes depends on what the EU chooses to do - if it insists on binding itself tightly to the US, it will swallow a bitter result; if it does not choose the US, it may hold negotiations with Russia; the third choice is to be stuck in a deadlock, said the expert. 

European leaders lack strategic independence and the courage to break the stalemate, and have been exhausted psychologically, economically and militarily, since their only tool of sanctions has failed to defeat Russia, the anonymous expert said. 

Imposing sanctions has hurt the European countries more than Russia and many of them have had to pay higher prices for natural gas via transit shipments in third countries, analysts said, noting that not all EU countries will be able to bear long-term energy shortages.