China's commitment to peace in Ukraine: What you need to know
China's commitment to peace in Ukraine: What you need to know

Editor's note: CGTN's First Voice provides instant commentary on breaking stories. The column clarifies emerging issues and better defines the news agenda, offering a Chinese perspective on the latest global events. This First Voice article is written by CGTN Special Commentator Keith Lamb, a University of Oxford graduate with a Master of Science in Contemporary Chinese Studies. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In terms of taking sides in the Ukraine conflict, China's stand is neutral when it comes to supporting the actors involved. It upholds the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity but also understands the political quagmire and complex security concerns that have led up to the conflict.

Unlike other powers, China does not feed the conflict with armament sales, nor does it put pressure on the actors involved to continue fighting. Likewise, it maintains open dialogue and good relations with all parties as it is only in this way that peace can be achieved.

On the other hand, when it comes to taking the side of war versus peace, China will never be neutral, it always stands on the side of world peace. This has been adroitly demonstrated on many occasions such as its peaceful rise, its extreme patience in the face of provocations that interfere with its territorial integrity, and most recently with the ground - breaking China-brokered Iran-Saudi rapprochement.

Consequently, when it comes to the Ukraine conflict, as a major responsible world power, China's role is consistent and clear-cut. China always seeks to facilitate a peaceful resolution to conflict and seeks to encourage peace talks. This has been demonstrated by China's twelve-point peace position on Ukraine and has been further demonstrated by Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, where Xi reiterated that "dialogue and negotiations are the only viable way out for the Ukraine crisis, and no one wins a nuclear war."

Xi is the only leader of a major global power that is considering the whole of mankind and not just narrow zero-sum Cold War calculations. Xi noted that "the Ukraine crisis is evolving in complex ways with major impacts on the international landscape." The most serious consequence that could occur if rationality isn't restored would be a nuclear catastrophe, which would lead to the destruction of mankind, the biosphere, and the earth to whom we are in service to.

China's twelve-point position entitled "China's Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis" advises against Cold War military bloc expansion, which has been a cause of the conflict, and stresses the importance of safeguarding nuclear power plants. In line with this universal concern for Mother Earth, the document also recommends the avoidance of nuclear weapons and their proliferation in the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2023. /VCG
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2023. /VCG

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2023. /VCG

Xi's talks with Zelenskyy touched on the nuclear issue too. Xi recognizes the momentous consequences of warmongering. He said "On the nuclear issue, all relevant parties must stay calm and exercise restraint, truly act in the interests of their own future and that of humanity, and jointly manage the crisis"

Despite China's clear-cut stance, it has been unfairly criticized as "taking a biased stand in the conflict." This criticism has come from those who have dissuaded peace talks, pushed for the continuation of conflict, and played a crucial role, due to bloc expansion, in sparking the conflict. As such, their criticism is blinkered by those whose preferences run counter to an important universal goal of humanity, which is peace and the protection of our collective biosphere.

China did not create the Ukraine crisis and as such blaming China for it is highly irresponsible. Furthermore, it does nothing for achieving peace. Xi pointed out that "as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible major country, China would not sit idly by, nor would it add oil to the fire, still less exploit the situation for self - gains." These are responsible words and actions that also need to be echoed by other great powers.

Considering both Sino-Ukrainian relations have gone through 31 years of development and reached the level of strategic partnership Zelenskyy has good reasons to trust China. As a sign of goodwill towards the Ukrainian people, during the conflict, China sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine to ameliorate the suffering of civilians. This aid was gratefully acknowledged by Zelenskyy during the call and he said that he "hopes to advance all-round bilateral cooperation with China, open up a new chapter in Ukraine-China relations, and jointly safeguard world peace and stability."

As we have seen many times in the history of this conflict, words are easy, actions are difficult. Nevertheless, peace must start with dialogue. When it comes to peace talks an assessment not only of the terrible outcomes of the Ukrainian conflict needs to be considered but a sober evaluation of the causes of the conflict needs to be taken into account for all parties to respectfully come together to ensure peace in Ukraine, Europe, and the World.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends