March 2023International NewsEurope

China Proposes Peace Plan for Russia-Ukraine War

Drew Starbuck
Staff Writer

As the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine passes its one-year anniversary, there have been efforts by many actors to come up with a durable solution for peace between the two countries. China has now called for a ceasefire to the conflict and the reduction of military efforts as part of its peace proposal for resolving the conflict. The Associated Press states that the talk calls for “a cease-fire, peace talks, protection for prisoners of war and stopping attacks on civilians, without elaborating, as well as keeping nuclear power plants safe and facilitating grain exports.” 

Furthermore, Al Jazeera reports that China has urged for an end to Western sanctions against Russia, establishing humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuation, and ensuring that steps are taken to secure the export of grain after disruptions caused global food prices to spike last year. The 12-point proposal does not contain many specific policies but reflects China’s consistent position on the conflict and it has garnered international attention. The South China Morning Post reports that, “The debate over China’s peace proposal also carried over to a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council.”

The basis of these proposals lie on many enduring Chinese foreign policy positions such as the consistent guarantee that all nations’ sovereignty and territorial independence be respected along with a rejection of the “Cold War” mentality by Western nations. NBC News reports on a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry on the plan, “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.” 

However, most key players of any potential negotiations have rejected the proposals, including the United States which remains deeply skeptical of any Chinese proposal due to their ties with Russia. POLITICO reports on President Biden’s remarks on the Chinese plan, “I’ve seen nothing in the plan that would indicate that there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia if the Chinese plan were followed.” As Al Jazeera reports, although Beijing claims to be neutral in the conflict, it has boasted of its “no limits” relationship with Russia and has refused to criticize Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It has also accused the West of provoking the conflict and “fanning the flames” by providing Ukraine with arms.” 

Similarly, NATO remains skeptical of the proposal as well due to China’s proposed neutrality. Reuters reports that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says, “China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.” Along with this stance, the West remains apprehensive of the support that the Chinese government is giving Russia to avoid Western sanctions. Al Jazeera reports that, “Washington has said China is considering providing weapons to Russia, a move that could intensify the conflict.” Not only do Western nations remain wary of the proposal, but Russia has taken a dim view of the plan. The section on territorial integrity remains a sticking point as Business Insider reports, due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions last September during the conflict. Moscow also retains its hold on Crimea as well from its initial annexation in 2014. The Kremlin’s insistence that the plan does not create any of the conditions necessary for peace shows that while tilted in their favor, they expect that their occupation of Ukrainian lands reflect a new territorial reality. 

On the other hand, Ukraine has shown tentative interest in China’s attempts at mediation. On the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion on Friday, Zelenskyy stated that he did want to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss the plan. His remarks echoed the optimism that China is willing to discuss Ukraine as a good sign, but the Ukrainian government awaits more details and specifics on what Beijing is proposing and what actions they are willing to take. The context of this proposal remains extremely significant, as the U.S. continually warns that the Chinese government is considering ways of sending Russia lethal aid to support their invasion. Whether or not this proposal will end the now more than a year long war is unclear, but it shows that appetite for the continuation of war is diminishing even among Russia’s purported allies. 

Image courtesy of Presidential Executive Office of Russia, Wikimedia Commons

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