China's Top Diplomat: Beijing Seeks ‘Active’ Role in Ukraine War

China's Top Diplomat: Beijing Seeks ‘Active’ Role in Ukraine War

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday his government will “continue resorting to active measures in order to settle this critical situation in Ukraine.”

His notion of “active measures” seemingly referred to China extending humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian civilians, because Wang adamantly resisted growing international pressure for Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to end the war.

Wang said he hoped “another round of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations will start soon and it will yield a certain progress,” but also made it clear that China’s relationship with Russia remains “rock solid,” and China respects Russia’s “legitimate security concerns.”

“As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and Russia are each other’s most important close neighbors and strategic partners. China-Russia ties are one of the most crucial bilateral relations in the world, and our cooperation not only brings benefits and welfare to our peoples, but also contributes to world peace, stability and development,” Wang said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) toast before the fifth regular foreign ministers

An armored personnel carrier burns and damaged light utility vehicles stand abandoned after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (Marienko Andrew/AP)

“China is willing to continue playing a constructive role in facilitating dialogue for peace, and work alongside the international community to carry out necessary mediation,” he said.

Wang’s “six-point plan” for responding to the Ukraine crisis was entirely concerned with “neutral and impartial” humanitarian operations, not doing anything to convince Russia to halt its attack. Several of his points conveniently left China off the hook for doing anything at all, such as his call for Ukraine’s neighbors to provide aid and shelter for refugees. 

The scene of a fire at the Economy Department building of Karazin Kharkiv National University, allegedly hit during recent shelling by Russia, on March 2, 2022. (SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)

One of Wang’s points was a demand for all parties to “ensure the safety of foreign nationals in Ukraine.” Chinese nationals in Ukraine have reportedly been attacked by locals enraged over Beijing’s unwavering support for Moscow.  

Wang said the Red Cross of China would provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainian civilians “as soon as possible,” but offered no further details. His comments were the first official mention of China giving any assistance to Ukraine.

Wang dismissed international appeals for Beijing to intervene with Moscow as a trap set by the evil United States to compromise China’s neutrality and integrity.

“The United States is trying to set up its own bloc to increase pressure on China. China is a sovereign state and we have all rights to resort to necessary measures in order to protect our legal rights,” he said.

“China and the United States must be cooperating based on an equal basis respecting each other,” he insisted.

Wang was especially irked by comparisons between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a feared Chinese invasion of Taiwan. He denounced such comparisons as a “blatant act of double standards” because Taiwan is supposedly China’s possession, to do with as it wishes, while Russia attacked an independent nation.

Wang then launched into a recitation of China’s standard talking points about the Western world encouraging “Taiwan separatists” to pursue a foolish dream of “independence” by making “empty promises” to protect Taiwan against China.

“Seeking foreign support to gain independence is a dead end. The scheme to use Taiwan to contain China is doomed to fail,” he warned.

Wang has previously indicated China’s desire to mediate ceasefire talks, and claimed Beijing has “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty,” the BBC noted Saturday. However, China refuses to condemn the Russian invasion or refer to it as a “war,” speaking up only to express “regret” for the loss of civilian life. China abstained from the vote on the U.N. resolution to condemn the Russian invasion.

“From its coercion of Vilnius to its failure thus far to condemn Moscow’s flagrant violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine today and in 2014, Beijing’s actions are speaking much louder than its words,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of China’s position on Monday, speaking at a news conference from the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

The “coercion” Blinken referred to was China using economic pressure to harass Lithuania for allowing Taiwan to open a diplomatic office in Vilnius in November. His mention of the year 2014 was a reference to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“China has the potential to reach out to Moscow because of their relationship, obviously, and we would like China to use its influence to press for a cease-fire and to make Russia stop the brutal unprecedented shelling and killing of civilians in Ukraine,” European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said from Brussels on Monday. 

John Hayward