What is China’s peace proposal on how to end Ukraine war?

China has offered a 12-point proposal that has had a lukewarm reception from both Ukraine and Russia

Matt Mathers
Friday 17 March 2023 09:48 GMT

Ukrainian troops launch attack on Russian forces in Maryinka

China has offered a 12-point peace proposal to end the war in Ukraine, with China’s President Xi Jinping set to visit Moscow next week. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Mr Xi's visit to Russia - his first in nearly four years - was in part to promote "peace".

The peace proposal is part of China’s push to try and act as mediator in ending Russia’s invasion. In it, Mr Xi’s government is reiterating Beijing's claim about being neutral, despite blocking efforts at the United Nations to condemn the invasion.

The document, which is light on detail, echoes Russian complaints that Western governments are to blame for the February 2022 invasion and criticises sanctions on Russia.

What has China proposed?

China's proposal calls for a ceasefire and peace talks, and an end to Western sanctions against Russia, without naming specific nations. It says “relevant countries should stop abusing unilateral sanctions” and “do their share in de-escalating the Ukraine crisis.”

It says sovereignty of all countries should be upheld, though it doesn't specify what that would look like for Ukraine, and the land taken from it since Russia seized Crimea in 2014.

The proposal condemns a “Cold War mentality,” a rebuke of the United States and Nato, the US-European military alliance. “The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs,” the proposal says. Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded a promise that Ukraine will not join the bloc before the invasion.

Other points call for a cease-fire, peace talks, protection for prisoners of war and stopping attacks on civilians, keeping nuclear power plants safe and facilitating grain exports.

The full list of 12 points that Beijing wants followed are:

• The sovereignty of all countries is respected

• Abandoning the Cold War mentality

• Ceasing hostilities

• Resuming peace talks

• Resolving the humanitarian crisis

• Protecting civilians and prisoners of war (PoWs)

• Keeping nuclear power plants safe

• Reducing strategic risks

• Facilitating grain exports

• Stopping unilateral sanctions

• Keeping industrial and supply chains stable

• Promoting post-conflict reconstruction

The plan has received a lukewarm reception from both Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine has taken issue with Beijing's proposals for not stating that Russia should withdraw behind borders in place since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, though it later said it was open to "parts of the plan".

Russia welcomed Beijing's initiative and said it would make a "nuanced study" of the plan but has also said it sees no sign for now of a peaceful resolution.

Does China back Russia’s war in Ukraine?

China and Russia say their friendship has ‘no limits’

China has offered contradictory statements regarding its stance. It says Russia was provoked into taking action by Nato’s eastward expansion but has also claimed neutrality on the war.

Ahead of Russia's invasion, Mr Xi and Mr Putin attended the opening of last year's Winter Olympics in Beijing and issued a statement that their governments had a “no limits” friendship.

Mr Putin has said he expects Mr Xi to visit Russia in the next few months. China has yet to confirm that.

China is “trying to have it both ways,” the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken has previously said.

“Publicly, they present themselves as a country striving for peace in Ukraine, but privately, as I said, we’ve seen already over these past months the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort.”

Has China provided support to Russia?

China’s support for Russia has been largely rhetorical and political. Beijing has helped to prevent efforts to condemn Moscow at the United Nations. There is no public evidence it is currently supplying arms to Russia, but the US has said China is providing non-lethal support already and may do more.

Mr Blinken has said that the United States has long been concerned that China would provide weapons to Russia. “We have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia,” he said.

China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi speaks during the Munich

Russian and Chinese forces have held joint drills since the invasion, most recently with the South African navy in a shipping lane off the South African coast.

Bilateral trade has soared since the invasion and China is Russia's biggest buyer of oil, a key source of revenue for Moscow.

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