What is China aiming for with its peace plan

What is China aiming for with its peace plan

China wants to present proposals for a “political solution” on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine this Friday. For this, Beijing sent its highest-ranking foreign politician Wang Yi to Moscow, where he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday. But is the country any good as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, even though it is Russia’s most important political and economic partner? We answer the most important questions about the Chinese “peace plan”.

Friederike Böge

Political correspondent for China, North Korea and Mongolia.

What do we know about the supposed Chinese peace plan?

After meeting with of China Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told senior foreign politician Wang Yi last week that Wang had told him that head of state and party leader Xi Jinping wanted to give a “peace speech” on the anniversary of the invasion. Beijing has not yet confirmed this. That doesn’t have to mean anything. Xi Jinping’s speeches are usually announced a day in advance or published afterwards. At the Munich Security Conference, Wang Yi announced that China would present its “position on a political solution to the Ukraine crisis”. He did not give details.

At his meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday, according to Russian sources, Wang spoke about “approaches” to a political solution. However, a spokeswoman in Moscow described reports of a “peace plan” as “distortion” of the facts by Western media. A Ukrainian government official told AFP that China had not consulted Kyiv on the matter. China is now also dampening expectations. Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said, “We never called it a peace plan. It is a position paper.”

Is China even suitable as a mediator in the conflict?

China is primarily concerned with staging itself as a peacemaker and portraying the United States as a warmonger. Beijing Is concerned that its international reputation has suffered because of its zero-Covid policy and diplomatic support for Russia since the start of the war. That’s why it counteracts. The peace rhetoric is part of China’s efforts to present itself as a responsible global power. The addressees of the production are war-weary Europeans, the global South and their own population. Currently, China’s push could also aim to reduce the number of supporters for a Russia-critical UN resolution.

China claims to be neutral in the Ukraine war. That’s not the case. Xi Jinping has spoken to the Russian President several times since the beginning of the war and not once to the Ukrainian one. He is planning a trip to Moscow soon and has sent his chief foreign policy adviser, Wang Yi, to Moscow just ahead of the symbolic anniversary of the invasion. Speaking to Putin, Wang praised “Russia’s willingness to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiations,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. China also shares Russian propaganda that the United States, not Russia, is to blame for the war and stands in the way of a peaceful solution. Beijing would therefore not be a credible mediator.

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