China, neutral in the Ukraine conflict, offers an olive branch

China is one of the few countries in the world making positive efforts to bring the Ukraine conflict to an end, yet the US and its allies keep up the rhetoric that China is in cahoots with Russia. China is clear: It does not support war. It is a country of peace.

To counter the West’s innuendos that China is supplying arms to Russia, China marked the first anniversary of the conflict by announcing its position unequivocally. If the West does not recognize this position, its bias will be loud and pronounced to such an extent that all its credibility will be lost.

On Feb 24, China announced its 12-point position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. It covered 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, keeping nuclear power plants safe, reducing strategic risks, facilitating grain exports, stopping unilateral sanctions, keeping industrial and supply chains stable, and promoting post-conflict reconstruction. Nothing could be more positive than that.

And it has had a positive response from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who wants to meet President Xi Jinping to discuss the plan further, and from Russia’s foreign ministry, which said it shared Beijing’s views (for peace). Predictably, US President Joe Biden belittled the plan, saying, “Putin is applauding it, so how could it be any good?”

But the West believes China should take sides — their side. Anyone who is neutral and not taking sides with the West is regarded as being on the other side of the fence

According to US financial news agency Bloomberg News, diplomats and some experts have dismissed the position paper. China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, responded at a news conference after the announcement that those who have criticized the position paper “should think about what they have done for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis instead of making comments that have no factual basis. Who exactly is committed to seeking peace? And who has been creating and escalating the tensions?”

Good questions. The US says it is all propaganda, but in reality, it is afraid to face the truth. For the US and its allies, war is good; it’s a cash cow for their economies, especially the massive American military-industrial complex. While millions die, face famine and flee to safer grounds due to the US proxy wars, China, on the other hand, has always been on the side of peace. Just before the Ukraine conflict and in a virtual meeting with Biden, President Xi stressed that China and the US should coexist peacefully and pursue win-win cooperation. The US is not listening and instead continues lambasting China. It does not want peace to take root.

The third point of the position paper says conflict and war benefit no one. “All parties must stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and aggravating tensions and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control. All parties should support Russia and Ukraine working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible to de-escalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire gradually.”

But the West believes China should take sides — their side. Anyone who is neutral and not taking sides with the West is regarded as being on the other side of the fence.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Russia and Ukraine are major trading partners with China, and to maintain the status quo, China has no alternative but to remain neutral. And because of this status, China is the only country to talk to both equally.

Before the announcement, the director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on a peace mission after meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, at the Munich Security Conference for the same purpose. Kuleba said Ukraine expects China to continue playing a constructive peacekeeping role. He also visited several European countries to solicit support. Russia and Ukraine appear to be in the mood for peace, but the US is not.

Wang Yi is brokering a deal for peace, a move severely criticized by the West. While Wang Yi was promoting peace talks in Moscow, Biden was in Poland drumming up more armed support for Ukraine.

Wang Wenbin took a swipe at NATO at his news conference, saying stoking bloc confrontation leads to conflict and war.

NATO is a product of the Cold War, yet it continues to exist despite the end of the Cold War. It even constantly seeks to reach beyond its traditional defense zone and scope and stoke tensions and create troubles in the Asia-Pacific region. NATO needs to reflect on itself and must not seek to sow chaos here in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere in the world.

Wang Wenbin asserted that applying double standards will backfire, noting that the US stresses the need to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, yet it is precisely the US that has wantonly violated other countries’ sovereignty most frequently in recent history, grandstanded on the Taiwan question and blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs, and that such double standards have been rejected and opposed by most members of the international community. 

The author is a former chief information officer of the Hong Kong government, a PR and media consultant, and a veteran journalist.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.