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The West is wrong about China’s position on Ukraine

SUN TIANYUAN argues that China's neutrality is not tacit support for Russian aggression, but part of its central commitment to global diplomacy — and far more consistent that those countries calling for peace while escalating the war

AS the conflict between Russia and Ukraine drags on, China’s neutral stance has come under increasing pressure from the West. Some have criticised Beijing’s decision to not take sides, while others portray Beijing as a growing threat and accuse it of siding with Russia.

China insists its position has always been objective, clear and consistent — its only wish is peace between the two sides. It says the West is wrong about China’s position on Ukraine.

Beijing does not seek geopolitical interests, nor does it endorse the use of punishing sanctions or military assistance that could further escalate the situation. In fact, China has been promoting peace talks since the beginning of the conflict.

One day after the outbreak of hostilities, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the phone seeking de-escalation. He also held online meetings with other national leaders, explaining China’s position. He stressed that the international community should create a favourable environment for talks, rather than add fuel to the fire and heighten tensions.

China’s neutrality enables it to play a responsible and constructive role. Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had intensive and in-depth exchanges with his counterparts in Russia and Ukraine, urging the two sides to overcome difficulties and manage their differences to resume talks.

The fact he spoke to both ministers as Europe and the world entered a period of turbulence is significant. Wang called on both sides to avoid escalating the conflict and prevent a worsening of the humanitarian crisis. He said the legitimate security concerns of all parties should be addressed based on the principle of mutual respect and that regional security cannot be achieved by expanding military blocs.
 
Besides high-level consultations with world leaders, China has proposed a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and has also sent multiple deliveries of aid to Ukraine, including food and daily necessities worth millions of dollars.

China is contributing its wisdom to resolve the crisis and ease the tension — and continues to make an independent assessment of the issue in an objective and impartial manner.

The cause of the Ukraine crisis lies in longstanding regional security issues in Europe that have built up over the years. China has stressed multiple times that the Ukraine issue is complex and should not be dealt with a binary “friend or foe” approach.

Yet in the mindset of some Western powers, there are only two clans in the world — “democracy” and the rest — whoever stands in its way or does not agree with its ideology will be labelled as an enemy.

Despite pressure, China stands firmly on the side of peace and continues to play a constructive role, seeking to resolve the Ukraine crisis in its own way. The West should also open up space for Russia and Ukraine to reach a political settlement, rather than heighten tensions. The only way out is through peace talks, not holding the world hostage with an outdated cold war mentality.

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