China's role in Ukraine crisis won't follow the US script
Published: May 09, 2023 10:34 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Recently, the US seems to have shifted its position from opposing to recognizing China's role in promoting peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State, said at the department press briefing on May 8 that "we've long felt and long believed that China has an appropriate role they can play." Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told The Washington Post that he had an open attitude toward working with China on Russia.

But in fact, the US goal of containing Russia's development and thoroughly weakening and disintegrating Russia has not changed. Behind the so-called recognition of China's appropriate role in the Ukraine crisis, there are hidden calculations.

What the US really implies is, first, China should not support Russia, especially in countering sanctions from Western countries. Therefore, this would greatly constrain Russia's domestic economy, leading to its self-collapse, without even fighting a war.

Second, the US is now seeking China's role in peace negotiation because it fears Russia's retaliation. If Ukraine achieves certain victories in the spring offensive, Russia will inevitably retaliate. In this case, the US is counting on China to urge Russia to give up a potential counterattack. Conversely, if Ukraine suffers major defeats in the spring offensive, the US may adopt a different attitude.

The US is behind Ukraine's proposed peace plan. It demands that Russia should withdraw troops, pay war reparations, and hold war criminals behind the conflict accountable, which is clearly impossible for Russia to accept. In other words, the US and the West have put forward a completely unrealistic peace proposal and they expect China to persuade Russia to compromise, which is even more unlikely.

The essence of promoting peace talks is to persuade both parties, and even multiple parties involved in the conflict, to engage in negotiations. The essence of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a hybrid war between the US and Russia, and it is meaningless and unrealistic to only persuade Russia. 

Now, the change in the US' attitude seems to be recognizing China's role, but in fact, the Western countries have long seen China and Russia as one. Otherwise, why would they make baseless accusations against China, claiming that China is providing weapons to Russia?

The US is trying to pressure China into "abandoning" Russia through this approach. The logic in Washington is that China has the ability to pressure Russia. And if Russia does not listen to China, then China should have to join the US and Western countries in imposing sanctions on Russia. The goal of Washington is not to seek genuine peace, but to make China do something impossible. This is a trap that the US has set up. 

What's more, China's role in Ukraine crisis will not follow the US' script.

Recently, the EU is preparing an 11th round of sanctions against Russia, and the US has provided its assistance to Ukraine. On the one hand, the US and Western countries are fueling the fire, and on the other hand, they want China to play the role of a peacemaker to put out the flames. Some fires can be extinguished by China, but others cannot, because China has never been a party to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. China has always approached the conflict from a third-party perspective and considered how to promote peace.

It must be pointed out that the 12-point peace proposal that China has made is complete, systematic, and indivisible. It is unacceptable to split any part of its proposal. In the face of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, China respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine. At the same time, China also needs to consider Russia's strategic needs, strategic security, and economic development, because the essence of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is the US' attempt to suppress Russia's national security and development interests.

The US and the West need to understand that in the face of the Ukraine crisis, a systematic and comprehensive consideration of the problem is needed to make the solution more practical. The unilateral sanctions they have imposed on Russia are not in line with the actual needs of international law. The key to the cease-fire lies in balance.

Currently, the biggest problem in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is that Ukraine needs to stop losses in time and avoid becoming the biggest victim in the fight between Western countries and Russia. Because at the critical moment, the US will only protect its own national interests and may even sacrifice its allies. After all, Washington sacrificing the interests of its allies is not a rare occurrence. Ukraine needs to understand that the US, its unreliable big brother, is the root of the problem.

The author is a Chinese military expert and TV commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn