China Releases Ukraine Peace Plan After Envoy’s Moscow Visit

Beijing has a plan.

Just a day on from Wang Yi’s overtly cordial face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow+, China released a 12-point blueprint ostensibly aimed at facilitating a “political settlement” to the war in Ukraine.

This wasn’t unexpected. Beijing previously indicated its intention to put forth a proposal by the end of the week. Xi is attempting to present himself as a peacemaker and a global statesman par excellence, amid increasingly urgent exhortations from the Biden administration, which has variously warned China against providing Russia with lethal aid.

Copious evidence suggests Moscow is importing critical technology from Chinese entities as part of a broader effort to circumvent a labyrinthine Western sanctions regime. The US and its allies are reportedly weighing whether to release intelligence to bolster claims that Xi is considering more overt support for Putin’s military.

On Friday, China’s ministry of foreign affairs said that “conflict and war benefit no one.” “All parties must stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and aggravating tensions and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control,” Beijing said, adding that “direct dialogue” between Kyiv and Moscow should resume “as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire.” China called dialogue “the only viable solution to the crisis.”

Beijing did insist that “nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought.” The plan was very explicit on that point. “The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed,” China said. It was hard to read that as anything other than a polite acknowledgment that the deployment of tactical nukes by Russia on the battlefield would be unequivocally bad. However, you’d be completely naive to think Putin didn’t review China’s plan before it was released on Friday. I’m sure Wang showed it to him.

In the very same breath, China appeared to nod obliquely to conspiracy theories about US-backed biological weapons labs. “China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances,” the proposal read. The West fears Putin could resort to chemical weapons, but the Kremlin’s propaganda blitz has, at times, included unsupported claims about alleged facilities in Ukraine.

In addition, the plan chastised Western sanctions on Russia as an example of “abuse” and the kind of “long-arm jurisdiction” that Beijing often accuses the US of exercising towards China. The plan also contained a familiar, and lengthy, critique of NATO. Without mentioning the alliance by name, Beijing accused the West of a “Cold War mentality” and said military blocs shouldn’t be strengthened or expanded.

Although quite a bit of China’s “plan” (note the scare quotes) was couched in nebulous language that’ll make it difficult to criticize, and even as some points were self-evidently valid (nobody wants a nuclear war for example), Wang’s “strong as a rock” remarks in Moscow, along with evidence that Beijing’s “no-limits” partnership with Putin may already include the willing provision of dual-use technologies to the Russian military, suggest Xi is anything but a neutral party. As such, Ukraine isn’t likely to take China’s peacekeeping pretensions seriously.

The full proposal can be found below.

China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis

  1. Respecting the sovereignty of all countries. Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld. All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. All parties should jointly uphold the basic norms governing international relations and defend international fairness and justice. Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected.

  2. Abandoning the Cold War mentality. The security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and addressed properly. There is no simple solution to a complex issue. All parties should, following the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and bearing in mind the long-term peace and stability of the world, help forge a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture. All parties should oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security, prevent bloc confrontation, and work together for peace and stability on the Eurasian Continent.

  3. Ceasing hostilities. Conflict and war benefit no one. All parties must stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and aggravating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control. All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire.

  4. Resuming peace talks. Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. All efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be encouraged and supported. The international community should stay committed to the right approach of promoting talks for peace, help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.

  5. Resolving the humanitarian crisis. All measures conducive to easing the humanitarian crisis must be encouraged and supported. Humanitarian operations should follow the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and humanitarian issues should not be politicized. The safety of civilians must be effectively protected, and humanitarian corridors should be set up for the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones. Efforts are needed to increase humanitarian assistance to relevant areas, improve humanitarian conditions, and provide rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, with a view to preventing a humanitarian crisis on a larger scale. The UN should be supported in playing a coordinating role in channeling humanitarian aid to conflict zones.

  6. Protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs). Parties to the conflict should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, avoid attacking civilians or civilian facilities, protect women, children and other victims of the conflict, and respect the basic rights of POWs. China supports the exchange of POWs between Russia and Ukraine, and calls on all parties to create more favorable conditions for this purpose.

  7. Keeping nuclear power plants safe. China opposes armed attacks against nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities, and calls on all parties to comply with international law including the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) and resolutely avoid man-made nuclear accidents. China supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in playing a constructive role in promoting the safety and security of peaceful nuclear facilities.

  8. Reducing strategic risks. Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crisis avoided. China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances.

  9. Facilitating grain exports. All parties need to implement the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Russia, Türkiye, Ukraine and the UN fully and effectively in a balanced manner, and support the UN in playing an important role in this regard. The cooperation initiative on global food security proposed by China provides a feasible solution to the global food crisis.

  10. Stopping unilateral sanctions. Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the issue; they only create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the UN Security Council. Relevant countries should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” against other countries, so as to do their share in deescalating the Ukraine crisis and create conditions for developing countries to grow their economies and better the lives of their people.

  11. Keeping industrial and supply chains stable. All parties should earnestly maintain the existing world economic system and oppose using the world economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes. Joint efforts are needed to mitigate the spillovers of the crisis and prevent it from disrupting international cooperation in energy, finance, food trade and transportation and undermining the global economic recovery.

  12. Promoting post-conflict reconstruction. The international community needs to take measures to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict zones. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this endeavor.


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5 thoughts on “China Releases Ukraine Peace Plan After Envoy’s Moscow Visit

    1. Agreed, where does this “plan” have China enforce (via Russian complete withdrawl)
      “The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld”?
      (unless they’re saying Putin’s crazy claim that Ukraine has always been part of Russia is the only one that matters?)

  1. There’s zero mention of borders, territory, troop withdrawal, or what any kind of peace treaty would look like. All this is is a call for a ceasefire packed in the middle of a bunch of generalities. Honestly, the call for a ceasefire is the only concrete thing here, and even that is nebulously worded. This is the most bland, empty, generic document I could imagine.

  2. I am surprised China isn’t leaning harder on Russia, as part of mending China-Europe relations. It seems to me that China has Russia in a headlock, isolated and dependent on sales to China at steep discounts.

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