By John Friend
As the U.S., European Union and Western leaders pressure China to use its influence to persuade Russia to back down in its ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, Chinese officials continue to largely rebuff their efforts and have refused to condemn Russia’s actions.
During a press conference yesterday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described Russia as China’s “most important strategic partner,” emphasizing that Beijing’s close relationship with Moscow represents “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world,” according to ABC News.
China has criticized the Western-imposed sanctions on Russia following the initiation of its special military operation in Ukraine, along with the hysterical, one-sided narrative endlessly spewed by Western media outlets pinning blame for the situation entirely on the Russians while failing to consider the role NATO, the U.S. and other Western governments have played in fomenting the crisis.
Ukraine and Western powers – the U.S., United Kingdom, and NATO more broadly – have failed to responsibly engage diplomatically with their Russian counterparts or acknowledge the entirely legitimate national security concerns Moscow has with a militarized Ukraine, its potential NATO membership and the years long conflict in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, which Russia argues has led to the deaths of thousands of ethnic Russians.
Peter Stano, a European Commission spokesman for foreign affairs, explained the role Western governments would prefer China play in convincing Russia to halt its operation in Ukraine.
“China has the potential to reach out to Moscow because of their relationship, obviously, and we would like China to use its influence to press for a cease-fire and to make Russia stop the brutal unprecedented shelling and killing of civilians in Ukraine,” Stano stated recently.
Chinese officials have repeatedly called for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis and have insisted the major players involved sit down at the negotiating table to resolve the issues involved in the complex situation. Foreign Minister Yi emphasized the Chinese government wishes to see a de-escalation of the conflict, a protection of and respect for civilians, private property and infrastructure, and, ultimately, a negotiated ceasefire and diplomatic solution.
Chinese officials have been critical of the highly emotional and reckless nature of the public discourse prevailing in the West, which have included public calls for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assassination by leading American politicians and media pundits, devastating economic sanctions and boycotts of Russian products, persecution of Russia nationals, students and businesses abroad, the potential establishment of a “no-fly zone” enforced by NATO countries and even possible NATO involvement in the conflict to aid Ukraine.
Sean Hannity references a decades-old rule forbidding US government employees from engaging in political assassination:
"When it comes to Putin, is it time to now revisit that rule?" pic.twitter.com/f9Lcn1PBl5
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) March 3, 2022
Foreign Minister Yi noted that “what is needed to solve complex issues is a cool head and a rational mind, not adding fuel to the fire which only intensifies the situation,” referring to his Western counterparts.
“We need to jointly support the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and encourage them to keep the momentum of negotiations, overcome difficulties, proceed with the talks and bring about peace,” Chinese President Xi Jinping stated. “We need to call for maximum restraint to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis.”
We need to jointly support the peace talks between Russia and #Ukraine, and encourage them to keep the momentum of negotiations, overcome difficulties, proceed with the talks and bring about peace. We need to call for maximum restraint to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis: Xi https://t.co/Z13etoWd6q pic.twitter.com/ipwUzbsrRd
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 8, 2022
Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the UN, also encouraged Russia and Ukraine to “overcome difficulties in implementation to ensure safety of humanitarian corridors for civilians,” according to the Global Times. “Lives and basic needs of civilians should be guaranteed to avoid large-scale humanitarian crisis.”
Russia and Ukraine should overcome difficulties in implementation to ensure safety of humanitarian corridors for civilians. Lives and basic needs of civilians should be guaranteed to avoid large-scale humanitarian crisis: Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN pic.twitter.com/1KmrQLCt0j
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 8, 2022
The Russian special military operation in Ukraine appears to be largely directed at military targets with the aim of limiting civilian engagement and the destruction of major civilian infrastructure. Humanitarian corridors have been established in various areas in the country allowing civilians to escape conflict zones and potential violence.
While negotiations have stalled, Russian demands have largely been rejected or dismissed by Ukraine thus far. Russia is insisting on a constitutional guarantee that Ukraine will not join any hostile blocs such as NATO, a recognition of Crimea as a Russian territory, and the recognition of the Donbass districts of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as independent republics.