Why China is trying to mediate in the Ukraine invasion

The war has handed Beijing opportunities that it might once have considered to be quite a lot further down the line, writes Mary Dejevsky

Saturday 18 March 2023 17:00 GMT
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<p>It has allowed Xi to parade as the defender-in-chief of a non-Western bloc</p>

It has allowed Xi to parade as the defender-in-chief of a non-Western bloc

So taken up was the Western world reiterating its support for Ukraine a year after the Russian invasion, that it barely registered how a very large power on the other side of the world had marked the anniversary in a rather different way. Even as the United States, the UK and Europe were girding themselves for another year of conflict and competing for laurels in the supply of arms, China came out with... a peace plan.

To the extent that the plan received any Western attention at all, it was dismissive. The general message was that now was no time for talking, and anyway that China had no business – and no credibility – in setting itself up as a potential go-between.

A few weeks on, however, not only has China’s 12-point “position paper” not gone away, but there are reports that it is at least being looked at in Paris and Berlin, and maybe even in Washington DC. Still more significantly, it has not been rejected by Kyiv, which has given it what was described as a “cautious welcome”. In the light of this small signal, perhaps, China has quietly pressed on. It is confidently forecast that Xi Jinping, newly confirmed as China’s president for an unprecedented third term, will visit Moscow next week, with a “remote” meeting with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, scheduled for shortly before or after.

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