China’s envoy kicks off visit amid intensified battle in Ukraine crisis
Main task is ‘learning, communicating on demands and opinions’
Published: May 15, 2023 11:50 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China's special envoy for Eurasian affairs Li Hui is set to visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia as part of China's efforts to help find a political solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The main mission of the visit will be learning and communicating on demands and opinions of these major parties concerned, experts said.

The visit demonstrates China's efforts to bring about a political settlement to the Ukraine crisis, showing China's objective and fair stance as a responsible power, experts said. But they noted that China alone cannot solve the crisis, especially considering the US-led West's enhanced military support for Ukraine and the tough attitudes of Ukraine and Russia, urging more European partners that want peace to participate in peace mediation.     

Responding to an inquiry about the visit at a routine press conference on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated that China will, together with the international community, continue to play a constructive role in seeking a political solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Wang said China will release details of the visit soon.

During a phone call in April, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky exchanged views on China-Ukraine relations and the Ukraine crisis. 

Xi said during the phone call that China would send a special representative of the Chinese government on Eurasian affairs to visit Ukraine and other countries to have in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, which experts see as a signal that China will engage more in the diplomatic front to contribute to a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.  

As a special envoy, Li's mission is to collect and exchange information among the parties rather than to persuade them, Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

Judging from the order of the five stops, Cui believes that Li will learn the demands and opinions of Ukraine first, then communicate those opinions with other main parties related to the crisis and, in the final stop, seek response from Russia to all these information.
Li is reportedly the highest ranking Chinese senior official to visit Ukraine in the 15 months since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began. His visit came after some Western countries have provided new military support packages to Ukraine. It also coincides with the start of a planned counteroffensive on the battlefield, for which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been rallying support in the Europe over the past weekend. It is hoped that the visit of Chinese special envoy could bring a favorable turn to the bitter war, said the experts. 

"Now that China has entered the negotiation, it will come to a head, I think, by the end of the year," Henry Kissinger, a former US Secretary of State and national security adviser, said in an interview with CBS News' Ted Koppel that aired on May 7, "We will be talking about negotiating processes and even actual negotiations."

China is the most suitable third party to kick off the mediation work, Cui pointed out, urging more European countries and developing nations that want peace to engage in the work to help promote an early peaceful solution.

European people have also suffered a lot because of the conflict and European leaders are clearly aware of this, Cui noted.