China to find peace plan for Russia-Ukraine conflict when West failed to mediate but only add fuel to fire
Published: Feb 22, 2023 11:04 PM
Wang Yi (third from left) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (first from right) at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 22, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Wang Yi (third from left) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (first from right) at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 22, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

China is putting in every effort to mediate the complicated and intensifying Russia-Ukraine conflict, as visiting Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials in Moscow to discuss a range of issues, including Ukraine, even as the US and Western countries are more interested in sending additional weapons to keep the ongoing fight lasting. 

Chinese analysts said China will try its best to mediate, but whether a peace plan will be effective depends on both sides of the warring parties. Since Kiev is deeply influenced by Washington, which is not interested in an immediate cease-fire but prefers a prolonged conflict to keep undermining Moscow and change the status quo by force, it is really hard to see a feasible formula for peace that both sides can accept. Peace may arrive only after more casualties and damage in the battlefields make at least one side change their mind. 

China's plan for peace

During Wang's meeting with Putin, the two sides exchanged views on the Ukrainian issue. Wang said that China appreciates Russia's reaffirmation of willingness to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation. China will, as always, uphold an objective and fair stance and play a constructive role in politically resolving the crisis, according to a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday.   

Apart from meeting with Putin in Moscow, Wang, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, after meeting Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, on Tuesday.

Wang and Lavrov had in-depth discussions on the Ukraine issue. Wang emphasized that the more complicated the situation is, the more we cannot give up efforts for peace. It is hoped that all parties will overcome difficulties, continue to create conditions for dialogue and negotiation, and find effective ways of political settlement.

No matter how the international situation changes, China is willing to maintain the sound development momentum on the new model of major-country relationship with Russia, Wang told Lavrov.

Experts said Wang's meetings with the top leader and senior officials of Russia show that Moscow values highly its strategic ties with China and is also treating China's idea on the Ukraine issue seriously, and this is proof of China's unique influence for mediation purposes. 

Earlier, Wang said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that China would publish a document on its stance of finding a political settlement to the crisis. The document will include some important propositions made by China, which stress that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and the legitimate security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that the Chinese top diplomat shared with him "the key points of the peace plan that will be studied in detail by the Ukrainian side as soon as it receives the full text of the document," according to the Interfax-Ukraine News Agency on Tuesday.

Kuleba made the remarks at a joint press conference with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Tuesday. Experts said this proves Kiev will take China's efforts and position seriously, and there is hope for a breakthrough for the current situation. 

Some Western countries and media paid attention to what kind of peace plan China proposes, but they are being "cautious" because they are not in high agreement with China's proposition that the legitimate security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously," including Russia's, according to The Guardian.

Chinese analysts said if the West refuses to admit that some of Russia's security concerns are legitimate and reasonable, then they will just repeat the mistakes they had made with NATO's expansion in the past decades that eventually led to the current conflict. Moscow will never accept a proposal that denies its security interests, and the conflict therefore will not be stopped.

What is certain is that the plan proposed by the Western countries and the efforts put in by the Western leaders to mediate the ongoing conflict have failed, and the world at the moment really needs a new plan that is able to break the deadlock, and China is taking responsibility for that, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that "Russia and Ukraine are deadlocked in the battlefield. It's really hard for anyone to help them to solve their problems immediately, but it's possible to at least make them shift the focus from combat to negotiation."

It is difficult to make a perfect plan to satisfy all the warring parties. To promote a cease-fire and peace is a process that requires long-term and great efforts, and this is what China has been trying to do from the very beginning, Zhang said.