China calls for Russia-Ukraine ceasefire, peace talks

BEIJING (AP) — China has called for a ceasefire between Ukraine and Moscow and the start of peace talks in a 12-point plan to end the fighting that began a year ago.

Beijing claims to be neutral in the war, but China has also said it has “unlimited friendship” with Russia and has refused to criticize its invasion of Ukraine, or even refer to it as an invasion. It has accused the West of fueling the conflict and fanning the “flames” by supplying self-defense weapons to Ukraine.

The US has also said that China is preparing to provide military aid to Russia, something Beijing says is unsubstantiated. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the allegations “nothing more than slander and defamation”.

It is doubtful whether China can be seen as an honest broker.

China and Russia are increasingly aligning their foreign policies to counter the US-led liberal international order. Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed the strength of bilateral relations He met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday that the United States would reserve judgment on the proposal, but that China’s allegiance with Russia meant it was not a neutral mediator. “We would like to see nothing less than a just and lasting peace… but we doubt that such a proposal statements will be a constructive path forward,” he said.

Ahead of the release of the document, titled “China’s Position on a Political Solution to the Ukraine Crisis,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it an important first step to engage China.

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“In general, China started talking about peace in Ukraine, I think that’s not bad,” he said at a news conference with Spain’s prime minister on Thursday.

The 12-point paper China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday morning urging Russia to end Western economic sanctions, prevent attacks on civilians and civilian facilities, keep nuclear facilities safe, establish humanitarian corridors for civilians and ensure grain exports. Food prices.

It essentially reiterated long-standing Chinese positions, including that the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” of all countries should be guaranteed.

“Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way to resolve the Ukraine crisis,” the proposal said. It did not provide any details on what kind of talks would take place, what preconditions or which countries would be involved, but said “China is ready to continue to play a constructive role in this matter”.

It also called for an end to “Cold War attitudes” — China’s standard term for US hegemony and the maintenance of alliances such as NATO.

“The security of one country should not be pursued at the expense of others. “The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military bases,” the proposal said. “The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and duly addressed.”

China abstained from voting at the UN General Assembly on Thursday It approved a nonbinding resolution calling on Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces. It was one of 16 countries that either voted against or abstained from all five previous UN resolutions on Ukraine.

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The resolution, drafted by Ukraine in consultation with its allies, passed 141-7 with 32 votes in favor, sending a strong message ahead of the first anniversary of the invasion, which has left Russia more isolated than ever.

China has said the current conflict is “not something it wants to see” and has repeatedly said the use of nuclear weapons is completely unacceptable, implicitly denying Putin’s statement that Russia will use “all available means” to defend itself. Territory.

“Conflict and war benefit no one,” the proposal said.

“All parties should exercise reason and restraint … Russia and Ukraine should support each other to meet, resume direct dialogue as soon as possible, encourage a gradual de-escalation and de-escalation of the situation, and finally reach a comprehensive ceasefire,” it said. .

Reiterating China’s position, it said it would “not use nuclear weapons and not wage nuclear wars”.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University, said China’s proposal was necessary but not innovative.

“China’s peace proposal does not change, but consolidates its comprehensive positions on the crisis and war in Ukraine,” Xi said.

“China feels that it is necessary to repeat its self-perceived neutrality at this juncture, not only to criticize NATO, but also to save some international presumptions by distinguishing itself from Russia’s behavior,” Xi said.

China’s stance “has always been far less than Russia’s desire, but still faces criticism from the West and its allies,” Xi said.

Neither side would agree to let China play a mediating role, nor pay too much attention to the Chinese proposal, Beijing should clarify its position, he said.

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The proposal comes as U.S.-China relations have hit historic lows amid disputes over Taiwan, trade and technology, human rights and China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Thursday that his first reaction to the proposal was that “it might stop at one point, which is: respect the sovereignty of all nations.”

“All countries with ties to Russia hope to use that leverage to meaningfully and effectively push Russia to end this brutal war of aggression,” the State Department’s Price said. (China) is in a position to do that in ways that we are not.

Most recently, the two sides have been embroiled in the US shooting down a Chinese spy balloon that floated over the continental United States. China has responded strongly to this move. Claiming it was a spacecraft for meteorological research, he accused the US of “indiscriminate use of force”.

“China has not taken off the table the possibility of providing military aid to Ukraine, although we have yet to see them do that,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan noted China’s abstention in the UN vote and Wang Yi’s visits to other European countries during his recent visit to the continent, “trying to sell the idea that China is not fully aligned with Russia.”

“I can’t predict the future,” he told CNN. “What I can tell you is that the United States is not going to dictate to Ukraine how this war ends.”

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