China's special envoy to visit Ukraine and related countries to promote political solution to crisis
Objective and just position as a responsible power highlighted
Published: May 12, 2023 04:07 PM Updated: May 12, 2023 10:14 PM
Photo: VCG

Li Hui. File photo: VCG

China's special envoy for Eurasian affairs Li Hui will visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia, starting on May 15, to communicate with all parties on a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced at a press conference on Friday. 

Chinese experts said Li's upcoming visits demonstrate China's efforts to bring about a political settlement to the Ukraine crisis, showing China's objective and fair stance as a responsible power.

According to Wang, since the beginning of the crisis, China has held an objective and just position and actively promoted talks for peace. President Xi Jinping has put forward four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine, which outline China's fundamental approach to the issue. On this basis, China released its Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis, which reflects the above core ideas of China's stance and takes into account the legitimate concerns of all parties, receiving extensive understanding and recognition from the international community.

During a phone conversation on April 26, President Xi told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that China will send a special representative on Eurasian affairs to visit Ukraine and other countries to push for a political settlement to the crisis.

Li is a veteran diplomat and has been China's special envoy for Eurasian Affairs since 2019. He was previously Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan from 1997 to 1999, and from 2009 to 2019 he served as China's ambassador to Russia, according to publicly available information. 

Wang Wenbin said Li's upcoming visit reflects China's commitment to promoting peace talks and staying on the side of peace.

Wang noted that as the Ukraine crisis drags on and escalates, the world continues to experience the spillover effects of the crisis, with voices calling for a ceasefire and de-escalation in the international community.

China will continue to play a constructive role and build greater international consensus on ending hostilities, starting peace talks and preventing an escalation of the situation, and help facilitate a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, said Wang. 

Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Friday that Li's Europe tour is aimed at implementing China's efforts to promote peace talks.

According to Cui, in the case of ongoing conflicts, even if there are people who want to talk with each other, under the influence of various forces, it is not convenient to have direct communication. In this case, a third party is needed to.

"Under such circumstances, no matter what the outcome is, China must do it and only China can do it… This shows China's responsibility as a major country," Cui said. 

However, there are still some Western media that doubt China's neutrality, as Li's background of former ambassador to Russia indicates Li has "close ties" with Moscow, a claim that experts described as nit-picking.

It's absurd to believe that the special envoy's background as former ambassador to Moscow will lead to a biased position, Cui said. 

Almost all Chinese ambassadors to Russia have worked in the Department of Eurasian Affairs, where diplomats may be dispatched to different countries according to their job requirements, Cui explained, noting that Ukrainian affairs also fall under the Eurasian Division. If history serves as a reference, ambassador Li may be dispatched to Ukraine as well. 

Chinese diplomats are objective and impartial, not biased, Cui said, adding that if there is any "bias," then diplomats of all countries serve their own nations' interests first. 

"If we follow this inference from some US and Western media, is the US ambassador to China pro-China? The suggestion apparently does not stand up to scrutiny," Cui added.