(CNSNews.com) – China has released a document outlining its proposals for a “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” presenting itself as a responsible player ready to act constructively to achieve an end to the conflict.
The position paper, which Beijing has been previewing for a week, was published by the foreign ministry overnight, ahead of Friday’s U.N. Security Council meeting marking the one-year anniversary of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The release came shortly after the Chinese Communist Party’s top foreign affairs official, Wang Yi, held talks with President Vladimir Putin and other top officials in Moscow, where the document was reportedly discussed.
The 12-point paper covers many of the same basic arguments China has been putting forward since shortly after the invasion began, including statements about the need to: respect the sovereignty of all countries; promote “equal and uniform application of international law”; abandon “Cold War mentality” and refrain from pursuing security at the expense of others; resume direct dialogue; protect civilians and prisoners of war; safeguard nuclear facilities; facilitate grain exports; stabilize supply chains; and support post-conflict reconstruction.
It also calls for “all parties” to stop “fanning the flames and aggravating tensions,” and for an end to “unilateral” sanctions – that is, those not authorized by the Security Council, where both Russia and China have veto power.
What the “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis” document does not do is call on Russia to withdraw its troops from its neighbor’s sovereign territory, or to reverse its purported annexation of parts of that territory now under control of its armed forces.
By contrast, a non-binding U.N. General Assembly resolution that passed by a large margin hours earlier demanded that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
China abstained in that vote.
The U.S. government has pushed back against Beijing’s portrayal of itself as an impartial party to the war.
“The PRC [People’s Republic of China] has been providing important support to Russia over the course of this last year,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday, before the paper was published.
“They attempt to maintain this veneer of neutrality, professing to the world that they’re not taking a side, but they’ve clearly chosen a side.”
Price recalled the signing by Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, just weeks before the invasion, of a communique declaring a “no limits” partnership.
“Over the course of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the PRC has provided diplomatic support; they’ve provided political support; they’ve provided economic support,’ he said.
“They have echoed and parroted Russia’s propaganda, its lies, its distortions, its mistruths in an effort to shield Russia and to propagate what it is trying to feed the world – a steady diet of disinformation and lies.”
‘Not a question of two belligerents’
Since last weekend U.S. officials have spoken of intelligence pointing to China considering providing “lethal aid” to Russia to use in its war. The administration has yet to release any information to back up those claims, and Price on Thursday cited the need to protect “sources and methods.”
The administration has warned repeatedly that should China indeed provide such military aid to Russia, it would face “costs” and “consequences.” Iran’s provision of combat drones for the Russian military campaign in Ukraine has attracted U.S. sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities allegedly involved.
China’s response to the “lethal aid” warnings has been to point to U.S. and Western supplies of weaponry to Ukraine.
“It is the U.S., not China, that has been pouring weapons into the battlefield,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said earlier this week. “The U.S. is in no position to tell China what to do.”
Price rejected the attempt to equate the two, saying the conflict was “not a question of two belligerents.”
“It is a question of an aggressor waging fierce brutality against its neighbor without any justification whatsoever, without any basis in international law,” he said.
Speaking several hours before Beijing released its position paper, Undersecretary of State for political affairs Victoria Nuland said the administration was waiting “to see what the Chinese put on the table.”
“What’s most important is that any peace be a just peace and a durable peace,” she said at a Washington Post event. “It can’t simply be a cynical ceasefire that allows the Russians the time to go home, rest, refit, and return, as we saw. “
“But listen,” Nuland added, “if Xi Jinping can get Putin and his army out of Ukraine, I think we’d all applaud and give a peace prize.”
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