Wrangling extends to UN as one-year anniversary of Russia-Ukraine conflict approaches
Distorting and slandering Beijing's efforts shows Cold War mentality, obstructs political settlement
Published: Feb 23, 2023 10:20 PM Updated: Feb 24, 2023 12:50 AM
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna speaks during the Eleventh Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on February 23, 2023. Photo: AFP

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna speaks during the Eleventh Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on February 23, 2023. Photo: AFP

On the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the confrontation between the US, some Western countries and Russia has continued to intensify not only on the battlefield, but also at the United Nations (UN), where the 193-member UN General Assembly was due to vote on Thursday to call for an end to the conflict. While Moscow said it's ready for a solution, the global community has raised questions about what kind of solution is really needed or whether the US-led West will further use the UNGA as a tool to pressure Russia. 

In recent days, the US has been ramping up its distortions of China's balanced stance on the Ukraine issue by expressing so-called concerns over the latest meeting between Wang Yi, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It also hyped so-called China's weapons support for Russia, reflecting Washington's typical Cold War mentality and its ulterior motives of strategically containing Russia and China at the same time, Chinese officials and experts said. 

As China is set to release a position paper on the Ukraine crisis soon, some experts believe that the document will insist on resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict through diplomatic channels, pointing out that the NATO-backed military confrontation and economic sanctions imposed by the US and Europe will only further escalate tensions. Echoing China's Global Security Initiative (GSI) Concept Paper released on Tuesday, China's position on the Ukraine issue will call for the building of a fair international order, and a rejection of hegemony and a Cold War mindset, which are also the root causes of the conflict, experts noted. 

'Tool of West'

The UNGA is expected to endorse the resolution on Thursday, which demands that "Russia unconditionally and immediately withdraw from Ukraine's territory." Ukraine and its supporters hope to deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation by seeking "yes" votes from nearly three-quarters of the assembly, while Russia considers the draft resolution as anti-Russian, according to media reports. 

Belarusian representatives have decided to try to balance the draft and come up with their amendments, including a prohibition on shipping weapons to the conflict zone and the need to tackle the root causes of the crisis, TASS said, citing Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky. 

Russia and Ukraine are highly divided on the draft resolution, as they have a different understanding of the root causes of the Ukraine crisis, 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 Thursday. "The resolution won't have much impact on Russia," he said.

The UN is highly likely to adopt the resolution, but it's non-binding and has little value, which shows that ever since the Trump administration, the UNGA has basically become a political tool of the West to contain China and Russia, said Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University. 

US Ukraine crisis Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US Ukraine crisis Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

With the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine crisis coming up on Friday, geopolitical tension has continued to escalate, especially after US President Joe Biden met leaders of NATO's eastern flank in Poland on Wednesday, reaffirming Washington's commitment to the security of the bloc and support for Kiev. He also made a surprise visit on Monday to the Ukrainian capital, the first time since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began.

"There's no winner in conflict and confrontation. Dialogue and negotiation are the only correct way to resolve the crisis," Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a routine press conference on Thursday while commenting on Biden's latest repeat of commitment to Ukraine. The Chinese official also urged the parties involved to play a constructive role in handling the crisis peacefully and pushing forward negotiations. 

Some Western media and observers hinted at the coincidence of Biden making a surprise visit to Kiev as Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi visited Russia, speculating on China's "alignment" with Russia and its efforts to strike a balance between Europe and Russia. 

"The nature of the two visits is completely different. Biden suddenly showed up in Kiev, but Wang's planned visit to Russia was announced earlier. These two visits should not be brought up together in terms of timing," Fu Cong, Chinese envoy to the EU, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview. 

China and the US also take very different positions, as Biden's visit to Ukraine was focused on the Ukraine crisis with the aim of supporting the continuation of the conflict, but Wang's visit to Russia not only focused on the Ukraine issue but also other aspects of China-Russia relations, Fu said. 

"When talking about the Ukraine issue, we always take a more fair and reasonable position. We will not take sides but only promote peace, which is the main tone taken by Wang when talking about the Ukraine issue," the Chinese envoy said. 

Stand with peace, dialogue 

During the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wang Yi in Moscow on Wednesday, where the two sides exchanged in-depth views on the Ukrainian issue, Wang said China appreciates Russia's reiteration of its willingness to resolve the issue through dialogue. 

China will, as always, uphold an objective and fair position in the political settlement of the crisis, the Chinese top diplomat said. 

After wrapping up his visit to Europe, Wang told reporters on Thursday that during the trip, he felt that although the positions of all the parties concerned are different and even sharply opposed to each other, they all accept that the disputes should be resolved through dialogue and understand that a regional security structure should be established to achieve peace, and appreciate China's objective position and calm attitude. They also expect China to play a more active role in the political settlement of the Ukraine issue, Wang said.

However, some US officials and media continued to smear China's position on the issue. The US State Department said on Wednesday that the US is concerned by "greater alignment between China and Russia," claiming that Wang's visit to Russia on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the crisis was further evidence of "Beijing's alignment with Moscow."

The Biden administration is also considering releasing intelligence that it believes shows China is weighing whether to supply weapons to support Russia's war in Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday, citing US officials.

"As the US always sees China as a main rival, it uses the Ukraine crisis as an occasion to slander China and hype the so-called China threat, ignoring China's diplomatic efforts in pushing for dialogue and even trying to shift its responsibility for the crisis," Zhang said, noting that this shows its typical Cold War mentality.