‘China would have tried to stop Ukraine war if it knew’: Beijing envoy to US denies collusion with Russia

  • China did not know about, acquiesce in or support the war, says Chinese ambassador Qin Gang in an opinion piece in The Washington Post
  • Qin moves to dispel links between Taiwan with Ukraine, saying it is a mistake to play up the risk of a conflict

China would have tried its best to prevent the war in Ukraine if it had known about it, said Qin Gang, Chinese ambassador to the US, in the latest statement from Beijing denying collusion with Russia over the war.

Qin made the remarks in an opinion piece he wrote for The Washington Post on Wednesday explaining China’s stance on the Ukraine crisis, two days after China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi met US national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Rome.

Media reports early this month said China had prior knowledge of Russia’s military action and demanded Russia delay it until the Winter Olympics were over. A more recent report said Moscow had asked Beijing for military and financial aid in the war.

Qin said assertions that China knew about, acquiesced in or tacitly supported this war were “purely disinformation” and “serve only the purpose of shifting blame to and slinging mud at China”.

China’s foreign ministry had earlier denied such reports. Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday the US had maliciously spread disinformation targeting China and that Beijing had played a constructive part in promoting peace talks.

In the article, Qin said conflict between Russia and Ukraine “does no good for China”, citing the more than 6,000 Chinese citizens in Ukraine and China’s roles as the biggest trading partner of both Russia and Ukraine and as the largest importer of crude oil and natural gas in the world.

“Had China known about the imminent crisis, we would have tried our best to prevent it,” Qin said.

The ambassador said China was committed to an independent foreign policy of peace and its position on Ukraine was “objective and impartial”.

Qin said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine, must be respected, a step further than statements by other senior Chinese officials who did not name Ukraine specifically when referring to UN principles.

He also pointed out that the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously, showing China’s support for Russia over its concern about Nato’s eastern expansion, a cause of the war.

Threats against Chinese entities and businesses, as uttered by some US officials, were unacceptable, he said.

During the meeting in Rome on Monday, Sullivan said Beijing would face severe “consequences” if it helped Russia evade sanctions. Yang warned the US not to mischaracterise Beijing’s stance on the war.

Qin wrote in The Washington Post: “Neither war nor sanctions can deliver peace. Wielding the baton of sanctions at Chinese companies while seeking China’s support and cooperation simply won’t work”.

He also moved to dispel links between Taiwan and Ukraine, saying it was a mistake to play up the risk of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

The future of Taiwan lay in the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and the reunification of China, he said.

Qin said mainland China was committed to “peaceful” reunification, but retained all options to curb “Taiwan independence”. Beijing sees Taiwan as its territory and vows to take it back by force if necessary.

He called for mainland China and the US to work together to contain “Taiwan independence” to ensure stability across the strait.

In his article, Qin detailed China’s efforts in pushing for peace talks and the prevention of a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and detailed how senior officials from Beijing and Washington had maintained close communication over the crisis.

The first tranche of emergency humanitarian supplies provided by the Red Cross Society of China to its Ukrainian counterpart had been shipped from Beijing, he said, as an example of Beijing’s six-point humanitarian initiative.

Qin said the priority remained to achieve a ceasefire to protect civilians, and China would continue to “coordinate real efforts to achieve lasting peace”.

“We stand ready to do whatever we can and work with other parties. Our ultimate purpose is the end of war and support regional and global stability.” The ambassador said.

Author: Amber Wang, SCMP

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