China is willing to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday (Mar. 7), Caixin Global reported.
China says it wants to facilitate peace
“China is prepared to continue to play a constructive role to facilitate dialogue for peace and work alongside the international community when needed to carry out necessary mediation,” Wang said at a press conference on the country’s foreign policy held during the “Two Sessions”, China’s major annual meetings of two key political bodies.
Wang also said that China will provide urgent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which had previously asked Beijing to mediate a ceasefire with Russia.
In addition, he said the U.S.’ real goal with its Indo-Pacific strategy is to establish another version of NATO and to maintain U.S. hegemony, and that such an aim is “doomed to fail”.
China has sought to deflect blame from Russia onto the U.S. since the invasion, saying that the U.S. has been “increasing tensions and hyping up war for some time” by sending weapons to Ukraine.
Amid tensions last year over the buildup of Russian forces on multiple points along its border with Ukraine and growing fears of a war with Russia, the U.S. had sent weapons to Ukraine at Kyiv’s request.
In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping also said Moscow has “legitimate security concerns” as NATO have allowed the expansion of NATO eastwards, therefore challenging Russia’s “red line”.
Russia is China’s key strategic partner
Wang’s comments on Monday appeared to indicate that China’s position remains unchanged, and that it’s determined to stick with Russia despite growing international condemnation against its ally’s deeds.
At the press conference, he reiterated China’s strong ties with Russia, saying that they are each other’s closest ally and strategic partner, and that China-Russia relations are the most important bilateral ties in the world.
Wang said, “China-Russia ties are grounded in clear historical logic, and are driven by strong internal dynamics, as well as the rock solid friendship between the peoples of both countries.”
“The future for bilateral cooperation is bright. Regardless of how challenging the international situation is, China and Russia will always maintain strategic focus, and constantly push our comprehensive strategic partnership forward in the new era.”
Officially, China has adopted a neutral stance on Russia’s invasion, refusing to condemn Russia or describing its aggression on Ukraine as an “invasion”, despite paying lip service to the importance of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
It appears to be walking a fine line between standing by its ally against a U.S.-led world order, and not coming off as endorsing the invasion.
It remains the only major power to have steered clear of condemning Russia. Against a backdrop of countries which have joined global condemnation of Russia’s actions, with some even imposing sanctions on Russian institutions, China’s position on the matter could come off as rather stark.
As a sign of the difficulty of its balancing act, however, China has appeared to dissociate itself from Russia’s aggression as much as possible, vehemently denying a report from The New York Times which claimed that Beijing had asked Moscow to delay its invasion of Ukraine until the Winter Olympics was over, citing a western intelligence report.
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Top image adapted via Xinhua & Getty Images