China calls for Russia-Ukraine ceasefire, claims of neutrality questioned

Hong Kong (CNN) China has reiterated its calls for a political solution to the Ukraine conflict on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, as Beijing escalates. Pressure from the United States and its allies regarding its growing partnership with Moscow.

In a newly published one status report On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry called for the resumption of peace talks, an end to unilateral economic sanctions and emphasized its opposition to the use of nuclear weapons — a position Chinese President Xi Jinping has communicated with Western leaders over the past year.

The 12-point document is part of Beijing’s latest efforts to balance its “no-holds-barred” relationship with Moscow and sever ties with the West as the war drags on.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Wang Yi, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, in Moscow on February 22, 2022.

“Conflict and war benefit no one. All parties must be rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning flames and tensions, and prevent the crisis from worsening or spiraling out of control,” the newspaper said.

Beijing’s claim to neutrality has been severely undermined by its refusal to acknowledge the nature of the conflict — it has so far avoided calling it an “invasion” — and its diplomatic and economic support for Moscow.

Western officials have raised concerns that China is considering providing dangerous military aid to Russia, a charge Beijing denies.

The policy document reiterates many of China’s standard talking points, including urging both sides to resume peace talks. It said “talk and negotiation are the only viable solutions to the Ukraine crisis”, adding that China would play a “constructive role”, without providing details.

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And while it says “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld,” the document does not acknowledge Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.

Much of the language used in the document was aimed at the West. In a stinging criticism of the US, the magazine said the “Cold War mentality” must be abandoned.

“The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military bases. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and properly addressed,” it said, adding that Moscow’s view that the West has provoked war by expanding it. of NATO.

It also appears to criticize the wide-ranging economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and other Western countries. “Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the problem; they only create new problems,” it said. “To do their part in mitigating the Ukraine crisis, relevant countries must stop unilateral sanctions and abuse of ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ against other countries.”

The paper was quickly criticized by US officials, with US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan saying the war could end tomorrow if Russia stopped attacking Ukraine and withdrew its forces.

“My first reaction to that is that it can stop at some point, which is to respect the sovereignty of all countries,” Sullivan told CNN. “Ukraine did not attack Russia. NATO did not attack Russia. America did not attack Russia. This was a war of choice by Putin.”

In Beijing, the European Union’s ambassador to China, Jorge Toledo, told reporters at a briefing that China’s position was not a peace proposal and that the EU was “reading the papers closely,” Reuters reported.

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Ukraine, meanwhile, called the status quo “a good sign,” but China urged more to be done.

“China must do everything in its power to stop the war and restore peace in Ukraine, and urge Russia to withdraw its forces,” Ukraine’s charge d’affaires to China, Zhanna Leshshinska, told the same conference in Beijing.

“In neutrality, China should talk to both sides: Russia and Ukraine, and now we can see that China is not talking to Ukraine,” he said, noting that Kyiv was not consulted before the paper’s release.

The position was first discussed by top diplomat Wang Yi at a security conference in Munich last week, when he tried to cast Beijing as a responsible peace negotiator amid a diplomatic charm offensive in Europe.

Wang met Putin on Wednesday in Moscow, the final stop of his European tour.

When the Chinese ambassador entered the meeting room, Putin welcomed Wang with open arms. said Relations between Russia and China have “reached new milestones.”

“Russian-Chinese relations are developing as we planned in previous years. Everything is progressing and growing,” Putin told reporters. “Cooperation in the international arena between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, as we have repeatedly said, is very important to stabilize the international situation.”

Wang said the two countries “often face crisis and chaos, but in crisis there are always opportunities.”

“To further strengthen our comprehensive strategic partnership, this requires us to recognize changes more voluntarily and respond to changes more actively,” Wang said.

CNN’s Beijing bureau and Jake Kwan contributed reporting.

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