Slinging mud at China wouldn't solve the Ukraine conflict
First Voice

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As China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi told U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during their meeting in Rome on March 14, China doesn't want to see the Ukraine situation coming to this point. For China and the United States, the Ukraine conflict has become another point of contention on the global geopolitical landscape. While China seeks a peaceful and long-lasting resolution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, both countries that have close ties to China, the United States has been steadfast in its opposition against Russian actions and has cobbled together a group of countries that are punishing Russia with harsh sanctions and rhetoric suppression.

And America's hammer doesn't stop at just Russia. Just before the meeting took place, Sullivan himself threatened that there'll "absolutely be consequences" if China helps Russia to evade sanctions and U.S. officials claimed without evidence that Russia had requested military equipment and support from China. After Yang-Sullivan met, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters that "we have deep concerns about China's alignment with Russia at this point."

Perhaps, remaining neutral is indeed a near-impossible stance today, especially since the United States has a stake in this. America doesn't want a direct military confrontation with Russia. NATO couldn't act militarily without America's commitment. The West is united in using sanctions as the only tool available to try to keep Russia at bay. And the world's second largest economy does look like a pretty good escape chute for a country that's been economically targeted and is no longer allowed to use the international banking system.

That's the U.S. and the West's logic – that China is by default the economic fire extinguisher. To prevent this fear from becoming the reality, the United States has spent recent weeks trying to drag China into the mud through innuendos and un-supported claims about China's preference in this conflict.

Local residents are boarding an evacuation train driving to the west of Ukraine, in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, February 26, 2022. /CFP

Local residents are boarding an evacuation train driving to the west of Ukraine, in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, February 26, 2022. /CFP

China's preference is peace. It is not seeking to aid a geopolitical victory for either Russia or Ukraine, because neither would be victorious without sacrificing the international system. The Ukraine conflict has already divided the world along political lines like it hadn't seen since the era of the Cold War. The only ones that can bring a true and long-lasting peace are the parties directly involved in the conflict. It is neither within China nor U.S.' capability to impose a certain outcome on them. There has to be negotiations between those in conflict that are unhindered by outside interests. Distorting and discrediting China's position doesn't bring anything constructive to the process.

The meeting between Yang and Sullivan is for the implementation of important consensus reached between Chinese and American presidents. It's the continuation of a healing process that tries to bring back a sense of normality between two countries that have seen their relationship severely damaged. It's a tough and long road that both China and the U.S. have determined themselves to walk on in order to bring back stability and predictability.

Fixing a relationship that's been damaged by military conflict would be tougher and longer, but it's a road that the Ukrainians and Russians will be walking on one day. Those of us who are not directly involved in it can only help the process by facilitating negotiations and asking for good will on both sides. Sanctions, threats and innuendos do no good to it.

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