China Remains Conscientious and Aboveboard in Defusing Conflict and Promoting Peace

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine will have consequences for the whole world. As a permanent member of the United Nations (UN), China has always played a responsible and constructive role and taken the side of peace, dialogue, and justice. In this article, I would like to clarify China’s perspective and position on the Ukraine crisis.

1. Ukraine crisis needs to be handled under the norms governing international relations.

When dealing with complex issues like the Ukraine crisis, one should not opt for the simplistic approach of “friend or foe” and “black or white”. It is important for us to reject Cold War and bloc confrontation mentality. Compelling others to take a side is particularly unwise. Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, China has stood on the merits, adhered to independence, and abided by objectivity and impartiality. Talking about the Ukraine crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the “four musts”, saying that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be fully observed, the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously, and all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be supported.

His remarks clarify China’s authoritative position on the Ukraine issue. At a press conference held on the margins of this year’s “Two Sessions”, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also proposed “four musts” for defusing the Ukraine crisis, pointing out that we must uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and respect and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries; we must adhere to the principle of indivisible security and accommodate the legitimate security concerns of the parties involved; we must settle disputes by peaceful means through dialogue and negotiation; and we must keep in mind the long-term peace and stability of the region and put in place a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture.

Furthermore, Wang Yi has put forward, on behalf of the Chinese side, a five-point position on resolving the Ukraine issue and a six-point initiative on easing the humanitarian crisis, making China’s voice for and contributing China’s wisdom to resolving the crisis and easing the tensions. China’s propositions, objective, fair, sober, rational, and comprehensive, are gaining the understanding and recognition of more countries.

2. The Ukraine Crisis needs to be addressed through peace talks.

President Xi Jinping stressed that the more complex the situation, the greater the need to remain cool-headed and rational, adding that whatever the circumstances, there is always a need for political courage to create space for peace and leave room for a political settlement. For this purpose, China has endeavored to help cool down the situation and realize peace at an early date, shortly after the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine.

On the second day of the conflict, President Xi Jinping said in his phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that China wishes to see peace talks between Russia and Ukraine as early as possible. After that, President Xi Jinping also met via video link with leaders of the US, France, Germany, and the European Union (EU), where he stressed once again the importance of jointly facilitating their peace talks for a ceasefire as soon as possible, to avoid civilian causalities.

State Councilor Wang Yi held an intensive in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine issue with his counterparts from various countries, pointing out China’s five-pronged perseverance on the Ukraine issue. In particular, China preserves promoting peace talks in the right direction, opposes adding fuel to the fire and intensifying confrontation calls for achieving a ceasefire and ending the conflict, and supports Russia and Ukraine in carrying out direct dialogue. China holds that amidst the Ukraine crisis, it is of paramount importance for all to support Russia and Ukraine in keeping the talks going to bring about peaceful outcomes.

Unilateral sanctions, far from being a solution, will only escalate the conflict and create new problems. China will continue to work with the international community, in accordance with the wishes of the parties concerned and taking into account the developments of the situation, to play a constructive role in promoting peace talks and safeguarding peace.

3. The Ukraine Crisis, as well as other issues, needs to be settled under a unified standard.

The wrong approach taken by some countries and media organizations to apply double standards following the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis is highly alarming.

It is an unacceptable double standard to sympathize with refugees in Ukraine while treating those from countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America differently.

It is an unacceptable double standard to call acts harming civilians in Ukraine war crimes while allowing harm done to civilians in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria to go unpunished.

It is an unacceptable double standard to say the attacks on Ukraine undermine the principle of respect for sovereignty while claiming the attacks on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria were legitimate and lawful.

And it is an unacceptable double standard to stress that sovereignty is inviolable on the Ukraine issue while claiming that human rights precede sovereignty when it comes to issues related to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Iraq.

China reckons that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected; that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed; and the legitimate security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously. While it is certain that the Ukraine crisis needs to be resolved, it is also imperative to address other long-standing issues including the Palestine problem in an impartial manner. Only in this way can long-lasting peace be achieved in the Middle East, Europe, and other places across the globe.

4. Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis needs to be handled in accordance with international humanitarian law.

After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, China has called on the international community at once to attach importance to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. China has put forward a six-point initiative on avoiding a large-scale humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and has taken concrete steps to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other conflict-affected countries.

Given that the conflict continues at the moment, China calls on the parties concerned to abide by the international humanitarian law, protect the safety of civilians and civilian infrastructure, reduce civilian casualties, ensure the availability and safety of evacuation and humanitarian corridors and safeguard the basic rights of women, children, the injured and the captured soldiers. China supports any initiatives and measures conducive to easing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and stands ready to continue with its efforts to mitigate the humanitarian crisis.

China believes that humanitarian issues should not be politicized. The recent reports and images of civilian deaths in the Ukrainian town of Bucha are deeply disturbing. The relevant circumstances and specific causes of the incident must be verified and ascertained. Any accusations should be based on facts. All parties involved should exercise restraint and avoid unfounded accusations before the full picture is clear.

5. The root cause of the Ukraine Crisis needs to be eliminated under the framework for shared security.

As President Xi Jinping pointed out, the root cause of the Ukraine crisis is the regional security tensions in Europe that have built up over the years. A fundamental solution is to accommodate the legitimate security concerns of all relevant parties. In this day and age, global and regional security frameworks should no longer be built with a Cold War mentality.

Although the Cold War has ended after over three decades, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a product of bloc confrontation, has expanded with more members instead of dissolving as time passes by. It has gone through five rounds of eastward expansion in over 20 years, having 30 members now including nearly two-thirds of European countries. Such expansion targets are self-evident.

Whoever tied the knot is responsible for untying it. In the long term, Russia’s legitimate security concerns should be respected, and the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of Ukraine should be safeguarded as well. The US and NATO should engage in dialogue with Russia to address the root cause of the Ukraine crisis and eliminate the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine. This will help build a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture.

So far, the Ukraine crisis has continued for more than 40 days. I could even feel in Sudan that the spillovers of the crisis are affecting an increasing number of countries globally. President Xi Jinping noted that the Ukraine crisis must be handled properly, adding that one should not take the wrong medicine, focus on just one aspect of the issue without regard to the rest, or hold the entire world hostage, still less make ordinary people around the world suffer as a result. 

As many countries are still burdened with epidemic control and guarantee of people’s livelihood, escalating sanctions, and continuous war will fracture the global industrial and supply chains, which will further cause an energy crisis and a crop crisis and hurt the livelihood of people of all countries. All this is not what China desires to see.

As a responsible major country, China will continue to work alongside Sudan and other countries treasuring peace and justice to play a constructive role in easing the situation in Ukraine. We need to facilitate dialogue for peace and call on the two sides to cease fire and end the fighting as soon as possible.

This could prevent a more massive humanitarian crisis. Looking ahead, China sincerely hopes that certain countries will abandon Cold War and bloc confrontation mentality and take steps to build balanced, effective, and sustainable global and regional security frameworks, thus contributing to maintaining world peace and stability.

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