At the launch of a government paper on China’s global security initiative at an official forum in Beijing on February 21, Qin Gang, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, warned the United States against fueling the Ukraine conflict. Supported by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gang voiced Beijing’s opposition to the domination of world politics by the United States. On February 20th, at a regular press conference, Wang Wenbin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson articulated the same sentiment of Gang in stronger and more candid terms.
Claiming that the U.S. was in ‘no position’ to lecture China on the Ukraine conflict, Wang Wenbin expressed, “it is the U.S., not China, that has been pouring weapons onto the battlefield. The U.S. is in no position to tell China what to do.” Wang insisted that China supports peace talks and would “stay firm on the side of peace and dialogue, and play a constructive part in easing the situation.” He urged the U.S. to “seriously reflect on the role it has played, do something to actually help de-escalate the situation and promote peace talks, and stop deflecting the blame and spreading disinformation.” Gang echoed Wang’s sentiments, reaffirming that China has consistently played a neutral part in Ukraine. Gang claimed that, “since the outbreak of the crisis, China has consistently been objective and impartial” and that China urges “certain countries to immediately stop fueling the fire.” Gang reaffirmed concerns regarding the threat to its own sovereignty and security, expressing, “China firmly opposes all forms of hegemonism and power politics, the Cold War mentality and confrontations. We firmly oppose interference in China’s internal affairs and firmly safeguard our national sovereignty, security, development interests, and international fairness and justice.”
China’s efforts to remain neutral appear to be aimed at protecting sovereignty in the international community. Although remaining neutral is not the way to proceed in the face of conflict, China is right to call for the acknowledgment of other states’ misconduct in the conflict. The United States, though rightfully non-neutral in the conflict, has undoubtedly questionable practices within the conflict itself. It is important to understand that the Russian regime, rather than moving to de-escalate the conflict in light of limited success on the grand scale, has continued to escalate it. The potential for peacebuilding efforts is likely to only further fade from the perspective of feasible possibilities if the conflict continues to expand. Countries should continue to advocate for peaceful resolutions and refrain from remaining neutral or enabling any endeavors that risk the lives of civilians in the conflict.
Gang’s comments came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of “real consequences” in U.S.-China relations if China were to provide lethal aid for Russian forces fighting in Ukraine. Beijing last year struck a ‘no limits’ partnership with Moscow and refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While there has so far been no evidence of direct Chinese military support for the Russian war effort, Chinese officials and state-controlled media have largely repeated Moscow’s unfounded claims that NATO provoked the war.
The U.S. and China must both acknowledge their positions on the international stage, especially regarding their respective enablements of the Ukraine conflict. Countries should neither remain neutral nor enable violent conflict on either side. Actively searching for resolutions that promote peace is the way forward for all countries, regardless of their current or former stance in the conflict.
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