They presented a document with 12 principles for resolving the Russian-Ukrainian “crisis”. The Chinese ask that the territorial integrity of the countries be respected, but they do not condemn the Russian occupation. NATO and the EU think it is hardly credible. A Chinese company would be willing to sell attack drones to Moscow. At the UN, Beijing abstains in the vote against Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.
Beijing () – Only “suggestions” for a political solution to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, not a “peace plan”. As I had anticipated a year after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Chinese government today did not present anything concrete to stop the aggression.
A 12-point list in which a military attack from one country to another is never mentioned, but a “crisis”, which basically conforms to the concepts that Xi Jinping and company repeated over and over again. Beijing does not say afterwards how to carry out what it proposes, a further sign of its unwillingness to assume a proactive role of mediator.
The document begins with an invitation to “respect the sovereignty of each nation,” including its territorial integrity. Observers point to the inconsistency between the enunciation of this principle and the fact that China has not condemned the Kremlin’s armed action against the Ukrainians.
A lukewarm Western reaction was inevitable. NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg stated without hesitation that Beijing is not credible as a mediator. For its part, the EU Commission made it clear that what the Chinese presented are principles that must be read within the framework of its “unlimited” relationship with Moscow.
Just on February 22, when meeting Putin in Moscow, China’s senior diplomatic envoy Wang Yi declared that Sino-Russian cooperation is “important for stabilizing the international situation”: certainly not a declaration of neutrality.
The “Chinese peace initiative” comes after the United States accused China of being prepared to supply Russia with weapons. Beijing vehemently denies this, but according to Der Spiegelthe Chinese company Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology would be negotiating with the Moscow Armed Forces the mass production of attack drones: 100 prototypes to be delivered in April.
China certainly does not want the conflict to escalate: it would be yet another threat to already precarious global stability, while the country is facing a difficult economic recovery.
Xi would prefer Putin not to lose, because the Russian “czar” is a pawn that can be used against the US and its allies in the global geopolitical contest. However, China will continue to maintain the necessary room for maneuver even in such a scenario. Not surprisingly, Beijing abstained yesterday in the UN Assembly vote in which an overwhelming majority of member states (141, compared to 32 abstentions and 6 against) demanded Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.