Chinese approach to dealing with Russia-Ukraine conflict sharply contrasts with US’
Published: Feb 24, 2023 10:16 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

All this talk about red lines over the last few days has fizzled out to nothing. Once again, China has chosen the path of diplomacy and political agreement with the newly released China's Position on the Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. 

Both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield have recently suggested China would be crossing a red line if it sends arms to Russia but clearly US' most senior diplomats are only misdirecting the media, which then goes on to misdirect its readers, again! 

The media wants headlines, not diplomacy; US diplomats want more conflicts, not an end to hostilities. In contrast, China wants respect, dialogue and protection for the people most badly affected.

A country that has pledged over 100 billion in weaponry and financial aid, and even coerced others to contribute, has criticized China several times, not because China has ever done what the US is doing but because Western media wrote headlines suggesting China might. 

If we cast our minds back to March of last year, there were headlines such as "Russia has requested military and economic aid from China." US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, jumped onto every major media group vowing "serious consequences," Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the BBC and Guardian all carried the story but… 

Well, they made it up, it never happened. I've found that when we listen to what China says it will do, then we watch what China actually does, they turn out to be the same thing: When China says it will lift 800 million out of poverty, it does that; when China says it will build a bridge to Hong Kong, it does that; when China says it will help build , without conditions, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it does that and, when China says it won't send military aid to Russia, it doesn't do that. People who pay attention, can see patterns.

There's another pattern we can observe: When Blinken says China will do something bad, China lets him down and doesn't; when Biden says he will build back better, he doesn't; when the US combines with the G7 and says they will Build Back a Better World, they don't. Pay attention to the patterns, they reveal the actual truth. 

At no time has anyone in the Biden administration suggested that there could be a peaceful settlement to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. There can only be a complete victory for Ukraine, which, although I'm no expert, seems unlikely, and total destruction of Putin and his country which, any psychologist will tell us, means Putin, and the Russian people, aren't going to willingly accept. This appears to be a conflict without end.

China doesn't see it that way. With the release of a statement on Friday, China has made several suggestions: The first one applies to all parties, including Russia -
 respect the  sovereignty of all countries. The next applies to the US: abandon your cold war mentality and work together for peace and stability. So far, with two suggestions down, this is looking like a very well-thought-out statement.

There are 10 other points, the next two make sense: cease hostilities and resume peace talks. China will continue to play a constructive role in this process. The next two points speak of the human side, they are to resolve the humanitarian crisis and to protect civilians and prisoners of war. China calls on both parties to facilitate exchanges and the UN to ensure the crisis already in place can't escalate further.

So far, this is all sensible, rational and appropriate, is there a person in the world who can't agree to these kinds of statements?

The next two points are vital if the world is to remain a viable home for mankind -
 keep nuclear power plants safe so as to avoid any man-made disasters and reduce strategic risks, in other words, don't escalate this war into a nuclear war which should never be fought and will never be won.

The next three points are more global and important for the future of a great number of countries. Facilitate grain exports, both Russia and Ukraine are exporters of food to the "Global South," one of the (presumably) unintended consequences of this war is food shortages in places where people already go short. End unilateral sanctions, especially when those sanctions are not authorized by the UN. As China points out, unilateral sanctions don't help the people they claim to help and there is only one country in the world applying them. 

China also calls for industry and supply chains to be kept stable. Sanctions on Russian gas haven't hurt Russia, they're still selling gas but the supply is no longer stable and the prices are no longer cheap. Countries that are not involved in the conflict, including China and India, are able to buy, sell and ship gas but as a result of the process the prices increase and reliability of supply is not so stable. This brings no benefit to countries such as Germany, which are heavily dependent on that supply but these issues have certainly benefitted the US who now sell gas to Europe at massive profit. 

Finally, the last point is an important one, and that is to help rebuilding in "post-conflict zones." This should be done in a humanitarian and not in a profit-making way and China stands ready to provide assistance.

China is doing what it always does and the end result could hugely benefit innocent people caught up in this conflict, the military personnel dying in it and the millions of people affected by it. Perhaps it's time to pay more attention to the patterns.

The author is a British Australian freelance writer who has studied cross cultural change management in China and has lived in the country, traveling extensively for 17 years. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn