China notes Ukrainian foreign minister’s rebuttal of US media report
WSJ report part of Washington-led ‘typical disinformation campaign’ against Beijing on Ukraine crisis: experts
Published: May 29, 2023 07:49 PM
Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui (center right) meets with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba (center left) in talks in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 17, 2023. Photo: VCG

Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui (center right) meets with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba (center left) in talks in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 17, 2023. Photo: VCG

After Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba openly refuted a Wall Street Journal report claiming that China had proposed an immediate cease-fire and recognition of the "occupied territories of Ukraine as part of Russia," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it had noted the rebuttal.Some Chinese experts called the US media report a typical disinformation and part of a smear campaign launched by the US against China amid the Ukraine crisis. 

In a rare move, Kuleba made the clarification in a video message after an article appeared in the US media outlet claiming that China's Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui "carried a clear message" during his trip to Europe: US allies in Europe should assert their authority and urge an immediate cease-fire, leaving Russia in possession of the parts of its smaller neighbor that it now occupies, citing unnamed Western officials. 

After the WSJ article was published, the Ukrainian foreign minister immediately contacted his colleagues in the European capitals that Li had visited, and none of them confirmed that negotiations had been held to recognize the territories currently controlled by Russia, according to Ukrainian media reports. 

"I urge you to keep a cool mind and common sense, do not be fooled and emotionally react to every publication," Kuleba was quoted as saying in a report by the Ukrainian media outlet The New Voice of Ukraine. 

"I noticed that the Ukrainian foreign minister has publicly said that he contacted the relevant parties. No other country has said that Special Envoy Li Hui made the statements mentioned in the WSJ report," Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a routine press conference on Monday. 

From May 15 to 26, Li visited Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany, the headquarters of the EU and Russia, holding extensive contacts and exchanges with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, Mao said. Li expounded on China's position and propositions, listened to the opinions and suggestions of all parties and gathered more international consensus, and all parties attach great importance to Li's visit and fully recognize China's positive role in promoting peace talks, Mao noted. 

They also praised China's call to respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and the UN Charter, and expected China to continue playing a constructive role, the spokesperson said. 

"The US media report aims to smear China, create the theory of a 'China-Russia alliance' and completely ignore China's neutral position, as the US seeks to undermine China's international image out of its own strategic interests," Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday. 

On the question of sovereignty and territorial integrity, China has always held a clear position, and the US media is spreading "such nonsense," which only shows that the US side is not seeking a peaceful resolution on the crisis but is undermining efforts in the hope that the war will be prolonged so that it can further contain, sanction and isolate Russia, Zhang noted.  

It was not the first time that US media outlets, under the influence of Washington, spread disinformation about China over the Ukraine crisis. Some media such as the New York Times and CNN have hyped up China's "consideration" of sending weapons to Russia, and have distorted China-Russia relations as an "alliance of autocracies." 

Even before Li departed for this trip, some Western media downplayed the trip's prospects and even attacked China's motives, Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"The latest WSJ report is part of the disinformation campaign which even some Ukrainian officials who have friendly ties with the West like Kuleba can no longer tolerate, and this shows how groundless and childish those claims were," Cui said.

The US media outlet, like some US officials and observers, also hyped on China's intentions of promoting peace and negotiations. For example, the WSJ report said that China is trying to test the unity of the West and the report also highlighted the "skepticism" over its intentions due to "Beijing's close relationship with Moscow."

"Frankly speaking, I don't agree with that assessment [that China is on Russia's side]," Fu Cong, ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU, said during a recent interview with the British magazine the New Statesman. China is very clear that it stands in support of the territorial integrity of all countries. Of course, if we want to realistically seek an enduring peace in any region, the legitimate security concerns of all sides need to be respected, Fu said. 

"China is trying to facilitate peace. As I said, China maintains good relations with both Ukraine and Russia," the Chinese diplomat said. 

When asked why China has not condemned Russia, Fu said, "I think at this stage, actually, a simple condemnation does not solve the problem. It may reduce your space for diplomacy." 

"If all countries take the side of one country, then who is going to come out as a mediator for peace?" he asked.