Of all the things that could happen with this war between Ukraine and Russia, I never would have imagined that China would come in to potentially save the day.
The People's Republic of China recently proposed a plan to restore peace between Russia and Ukraine in the ongoing crisis. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement calling for an "inclusive international platform" to resolve the conflict, and to avoid fanning the flames or escalating tensions further. To this end, the Chinese government called on all parties involved to support Russia and Ukraine in resuming dialogue and gradually de-escalating the situation until a comprehensive ceasefire can be achieved.
In order to achieve their goals, China outlined several points in their proposal. These included resolving the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs), safeguarding nuclear power plants, reducing strategic risks, facilitating grain exports, ending unilateral sanctions, stabilizing industrial and supply chains, and promoting post-conflict reconstruction.
The published document has 12 points:
- Respecting the sovereignty of all countries
- Abandoning the Cold War mentality
- Ceasing hostilities
- Resuming peace talks
- Resolving the humanitarian crisis
- Protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs)
- Keeping nuclear power plants safe
- Reducing strategic risks
- Facilitating grain exports
- Stopping unilateral sanctions
- Keeping industrial and supply chains stable
- Promoting post-conflict reconstruction
"All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire," in particular, the document said.
However, this plan has been met with significant skepticism from both Ukraine and Western nations due to its perceived bias towards Russia. The West has expressed concern over China's call for an end to Western sanctions against Russia that could potentially lead to Ukraine ceding territory and NATO forces withdrawing from their eastern borders. Additionally, critics have pointed out that reconstruction efforts would likely benefit Chinese contractors more than others. There are also reports that China is sending nonlethal aid to Russia as well as considering sending lethal aid for Russian troops fighting in Ukraine - actions which many view as taking sides in the conflict rather than maintaining neutrality as Beijing claims.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commented on China's peace proposal by saying that they do not have much credibility given their failure to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces - an invasion which had been preceded by their signing of an agreement with Putin only days before its commencement. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen echoed these sentiments, adding that it was difficult to take China seriously as a neutral mediator given its apparent taking of sides in the conflict already through military cooperation agreements among other actions. Jorge Toledo, the EU ambassador to China further noted that despite their neutrality claims there is evidence suggesting hope for military aid from China to Russia - something he believes puts them at odds with UN values regarding war.