(CNSNews.com) – Reacting to Washington’s dismissive response to its Ukraine “political settlement” initiative, a Chinese Communist Party newspaper said on Sunday that U.S. claims about Beijing considering providing lethal aid to Russia were designed to hinder China’s attempts to “promote peace.”
China Daily accused the U.S. of “trying to smear China by alleging it is providing military support to Russia – a new campaign it has recently started in a bid to hinder any efforts by China to promote peace.”
U.S. officials first stated publicly that Beijing was considering supplying lethal aid for Russia’s war in Ukraine earlier this month. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he raised the issue with the CCP’s top foreign affairs official, Wang Yi, when the two met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on February 18.
Beijing released its “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis” position paper almost a week later.
The 12-point proposal covered little new ground, calling for a ceasefire and a return to direct negotiations, but saying nothing about Russia withdrawing its troops from Ukrainian territory.
China’s bid to present itself as a mediator comes after a year of providing economic, diplomatic, and rhetorical support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and pointedly refusing to condemn the aggression.
In an ABC News interview on Friday, President Biden did not appear to give much weight to the position paper.
“What do you make of this Chinese peace plan floated overnight which [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is now applauding today?” ABC’s David Muir asked the president.
“I think you answered the question,” Biden replied. “Putin’s applauding it, so how could it be any good?”
“I’m not being facetious; I’m being deadly earnest,” he continued. “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.”
“You see, the idea that China is going to be negotiating the outcome of a war that’s a totally unjust war, for Ukraine, is just not rational,” Biden said.
China Daily said in the editorial that the position paper clearly expressed “China’s neutrality.”
“China is in a unique position to act as a mediator in future negotiations between not only Moscow and Kyiv, but also Moscow and Washington, since it is no secret that it is Washington pulling Kyiv’s strings,” it said.
Asked at a briefing why the position paper did not call on Russia to withdraw its troops, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin did not directly answer the question, but said that “the Ukraine issue has a complex historical context.”
As for those who had already dismissed the proposals, he said, those people should “think about what they have done for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis instead of making comments that have no factual basis.”
“Who exactly are committed to seeking peace?” Wang asked. “And who have been creating and escalating the tensions?”
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova welcomed the Chinese paper.
“We highly appreciate the sincere desire of the Chinese friends to contribute to the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine by peaceful means,” she said. “We share Beijing’s views.”
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded diplomatically, saying there were some points in the document “that are clear to me” and others that he does not agree with.
He indicated an interest in discussing the proposals with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Asked on Friday if Beijing was willing to arrange a meeting or phone call between Xi and Zelenskyy, foreign ministry spokesman Wang said only, “We have maintained smooth communication with all relevant parties, including Ukraine.”
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