Ukraine: China says its refusal to condemn Russia gives peace a chance

  • Abstention in UN vote on Ukraine invasion showed ‘responsible attitude’ rather than ‘resolving disputes with war and sanctions’, Foreign Minister Wang Yi says
  • There should be ‘deep reflection’ about eastward expansion of Nato, Wang says after meeting Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has defended Beijing’s decision to abstain in a United Nations vote on the Ukraine crisis, saying it was a way to give peace a chance.
In remarks after hosting his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra on Sunday, Wang said that war and sanctions were not the only way to resolve the crisis.

“Abstaining from voting is also an attitude. It is to give peace a chance,” Wang was quoted as saying by a Chinese foreign ministry statement. “It is not in favour of resolving disputes with war and sanctions. It is a responsible attitude.”

Earlier this month, China abstained in a UN vote to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and denounced a “cold war mentality based on bloc confrontation” – a reference to security alliance Nato. It has also called for “properly addressing the legitimate security concerns of all parties, including Russia”.

Wang said after meeting with Lamamra that the causes of the Ukraine crisis were complicated and that there should be “deep reflection” about the eastward expansion of Nato – which was seen as a threat by Russia.

“Dialogue and negotiation are the fundamental solutions,” Wang said. “Under the current situation, we should stick to this direction.

“In the context of the impact of the epidemic, the escalating unilateral sanctions will cause the rupture of the global industrial chain and supply chain, which will impact the lives of people in various countries. The people of all countries should not be forced to pay the bills for geopolitical conflicts and great power games.”

Wang added that all countries had the right to decide on their own foreign policies independently and should not be forced to choose sides.

“When dealing with complex issues and different opinions, we should not adopt a simplistic approach of being either an enemy or a friend, or black and white,” the ministry quoted him as saying. “In particular, we must resist the cold war mentality and opposing camp confrontation.”

Beijing – which has described its ties with Russia as having “no limit” – has been urged to use its relationship with Moscow to help end the Ukraine crisis. US President Joe Biden said in a video conference with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday that there would be implications and consequences if China were to provide material support to Russia.

Xi said the crisis was “something we don’t want to see” and conflict was “not in the interests of anyone”.

China has so far not referred to Russia’s actions against Ukraine as an invasion, leading to accusations that it is backing Moscow.

The Chinese ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, on Sunday defended Beijing’s stance in an interview on American television.

Asked on CBS News’ programme Face the Nation why China did not “condemn this as an invasion”, Qin said: “I would be surprised if Russia will back down by condemnation.

“We will continue to promote peace talks and urge immediate ceasefire. Condemnation only doesn’t help. We need wisdom. We need courage. And we need good diplomacy.”

Author: Teddy Ng, SCMP

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