China has called for a cease-fire and urged the start of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in an intervention to coincide with the first anniversary of the conflict.
The Chinese foreign ministry published a 12-point peace plan on Friday, which it hopes can deliver a political solution to the Ukrainian question. Beijing stated “there are no winners in war” and warned that “a nuclear war must not be fought and can never be won.”
China’s plan calls for the “sovereignty of all countries to be respected,” an abandonment of the “Cold War mentality,” and the ceasing of hostilities.
It advocates the resumption of peace talks and a resolution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis while calling for civilians and prisoners of war to be respected and protected.
Other points included “keeping nuclear power plants safe,” “reducing strategic risks,” and “facilitating grain exports.”
Beijing refrained from describing the war as an “invasion” by Russia and makes no reference to Russia being the aggressor in the conflict.
The Chinese position paper criticized Western sanctions, which it claims should be lifted. The Chinese government also called for a commitment from both sides to keep industrial and supply chains stable and for the promotion of the post-conflict reconstruction of Ukraine.
The attempt by China to be seen as an impartial observer of the conflict has been questioned by Western leaders who publicly reminded Beijing of its close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It’s not a peace plan but principles that they share,” claimed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a visit to Estonia.
“You have to see them against a specific backdrop, and that is the backdrop that China has taken sides by signing an unlimited friendship (with Russia) right before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started,” she added.
“China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” noted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Despite the publication of Friday’s paper, China abstained from a U.N. General Assembly resolution held on Thursday, which called for a Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory.
The position paper was also released during a week in which the Chinese government was accused by Western leaders of potentially signing an arms agreement with the Kremlin that could see China supply Russia with weapons, a move NATO leaders including Secretary-General Stoltenberg warned would be a “very big mistake.”
Top Chinese diplomats have been in Moscow this week to meet with top-ranking Kremlin officials, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to visit the Russian capital in the coming months for a summit with Vladimir Putin.