China regrets UNSC rejection to probe Nord Stream blasts, questions US’ blocking of resolution
Published: Mar 28, 2023 09:31 PM
US has huge profits to gain from Nord Stream sabotage. Cartoon: Carlos Latuff

US has huge profits to gain from Nord Stream sabotage. Cartoon: Carlos Latuff

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Monday rejected a Russia-submitted draft resolution urging an independent international investigation into the Nord Stream blasts by a vote of three in favor (China, Russia, Brazil) to none against, with 12 abstentions including the US, over which China has expressed its regret and said it expects an early disclosure of the truth.

The resolution, if it had been adopted, would have requested the UN secretary-general to establish an international, independent investigation commission to conduct a comprehensive, transparent and impartial international investigation into all aspects of the act of sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in September 2022, including identification of its perpetrators, sponsors, organizers and accomplices.

On September 26, 2022, two Russian underwater pipelines carrying natural gas to Europe, the Nord Stream I and II, exploded on the same day under the Baltic Sea, causing large amounts of gas to leak into the nearby sea.

After the explosion, the US, the EU, NATO and Russia all said the blast was caused by sabotage. Speaking in a conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that the Nord Stream gas pipeline had suffered an unprecedented international terrorist attack.

After the UNSC rejection, Chinese observers suggested there could be an alternative to an international probe into the Nord Stream sabotage - Russia can propose a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly where only a majority of the members is needed to be present to vote on and adopt a resolution.

Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday that China's position was fully expressed in its explanatory statement after the Security Council's vote, noting the Security Council should shoulder the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.

The draft resolution proposed by Russia provided important options for finding the truth, but the Security Council was unable to reach an agreement, which China regrets, Mao said.

China noted that some members of the Security Council condemned the Nord Stream sabotage in their statements, and some pointed out that investigations should be expedited with transparent information disclosure. This fully demonstrates that the security of transnational infrastructure is of great concern and that a comprehensive, fair, transparent and independent international investigation is vital, Mao said.

However, according to the press release by the UN, the US deputy ambassador, Robert Wood, said there is no need for a UN probe when investigations by Sweden, Denmark and Germany "are proceeding in a comprehensive, transparent and impartial manner."

"In fact, international investigation will not be [in] conflict with the national ones currently underway," said Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, on Monday. He also said that the international investigation led by the UN can instead play a coordinating role among different countries' investigations, ensuring that the evidence chain is completely closed, and the investigation conclusions drawn are more authoritative and easier to be widely accepted.

As some countries including the US said that speculation and accusations should be avoided, Geng stressed that authorizing the UN to conduct an international investigation is the best way to respond to speculation and accusations.

He pointed out that blocking the Security Council from launching such an investigation only raises suspicions that "something is hidden behind the scenes."

Mao said the US is keen on conducting so-called investigations into some developing countries, but it is covering up the incident which poses a grave threat to international peace and security, which is an obvious double standard. 

"What are you afraid of, US?" Mao asked, noting that China looks forward to early progress in relevant investigation, early disclosure of the truth, and the perpetrators being brought to justice.

Tang Bei, an associate professor at the school of international relations and public affairs at Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Russia could if it wishes propose a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly where with only a majority of the members present and voting, the UN General Assembly can adopt a resolution.

Although resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly are not as binding as those by the UNSC, they still have the force of international law.

Tang believes the possibility the UN General Assembly will adopt such a resolution into the Nord Stream blasts cannot be ruled out.

China, which is not a direct stakeholder, will continue to call for the security of global infrastructure and an impartial investigation, Tang said.