China’s peace plan for Ukraine-Russia war
China, last February, presented a 12-point peace plan aimed at putting the more than one-year-old Russia-Ukraine war to an end.
The plan makes several demands on both sides of the conflict which began on February 24, 2022 – after Russia invaded Ukraine without prior notice.
Russia had hoped to subdue Ukraine and occupy it in weeks, but the war has since dragged on with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
Russia has, since the war, entered and occupied cities in the eastern parts of Ukraine, after annexing the Crimea Peninsula in 2014.
Ukraine has fought back bravely with military supplies from its western allies and has flushed Russian troops out of some occupied areas.
On the first anniversary of the war, China emerged as a possible peace broker – offering a 12-point peace plan to end the war.
In the published peace-plan document, the Chinese authorities requested both sides of the war to avoid ‘’fanning the flames and aggravating tensions’’.
“Conflict and war benefits no one and everyone involved must stay rational and exercise restraint,’’ the document said.
The peace plan aims at achieving the following:
- Respect for all countries’ sovereignty;
- Abandoning of the Cold War mentality;
- End of hostilities;
- Resumption of peace talks;
- Resolution of the humanitarian crisis;
- Protection of civilians and prisoners of war;
- Keeping nuclear plants under safety conditions;
- Reducing strategic risks;
- Facilitating grain export;
- Stopping unilateral sanctions;
- Keeping industrial and supply chains stable; and
- Promoting post-conflict reconstruction.
Added to the 12-point peace plan is a demand in the document that “nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear war must not be fought”.
“We oppose the development, use of biological or chemical weapons by any country under any circumstances,” the document further stated.
Responses to the peace plan have, surprisingly, been varied.
Ukraine has stated before China unveiled its peace plan that it would not respond to any peace talks or ceasefire until Russian soldiers left the areas in Ukraine that have been occupied.
It has been the position of the Ukrainians that a halt in the war with Russia in their country would enable Russia to regroup its forces.
Zhanna Leshchynska, Ukrainian Charge d’ Affaires in Beijing, China, has described the peace plan document as a “good sign”, but she expressed doubt about China’s neutrality.
“If it is neutrality, then China should talk to both Russia and Ukraine,’’ she said.
“Now, we see the Chinese side mostly talking with Russia, but not Ukraine.
“We would not agree to anything that keeps territories occupied that puts our people at aggressors’ mercy,” she added.
In Russia’s reaction to the Chinese plan, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation has welcomed the plan.
He has said at a press conference in Moscow where President Xi Jinping of China was on a visit last month, that the plan “correlates to the point of view of the Russian Federation’’.
Mr Putin added, however, that Ukrainian Western allies had shown no interest in the plan.
The United States’ response to the plan has been that of scepticism and outright rejection.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has warned that the plan could be a “stalling tactic’’ to help Russian troops in Ukraine.
‘’The world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms,” he added.
John Kirby, White House (National) Security Council spokesperson, has said that the US do not see China as capable of being an impartial mediator between Moscow and Kyiv over the war in Ukraine.
“I don’t think you can reasonably look at China as impartial in any way,“ he added.
For the European Union, its ambassador to China, Jorge Toledo, said the EU would study the peace-plan document closely but his initial reaction was that it was not a peace proposal and that the plan did not mention an aggressor.
The response of France, as a nation, has not been that of outright rejection.
President Emmanuel Macron, has said that although he does not accept the plan, China, as a close ally of Russia, has a key role to play in finding the ‘’path to peace in Ukraine’’.
President Macron has made a three-day visit to China as a follow-up to ensure that China uses its friendly position with Russia to restore peace in Ukraine.
“China, with its close relations with Russia which has been reaffirmed in recent days, can play a major role”.
He added that although France did not agree with the plan, the plan indicated that China had “a will to play a responsible role and try to build a path to peace”.
International relations experts and analysts have also expressed their considered opinions on the Chinese peace plan.
Li Ming Jiang, an international security expert, has seen the plan as “an attempt at public relations” by China.
“I’m not convinced that this policy is going to improve their credibility in being an honest broker,” he added.
Shi Yin Hong, professor of international relations at Beijing Renmin University, has said that neither side in the conflict is likely to pay much attention to the points spelt out in the plan.
He added, however, that it was necessary for China to clarify its position.
According to a US correspondent for Sky News online, Mark Stone, the peace plan did not present the expected dramatic diplomatic breakthrough or path to peace.
He added, however, that the plan did not suggest that China was moving closer to Russia or was preparing to provide military supplies to Russia.
It appears that China did not consult the stakeholders before preparing the 12-point peace plan.
The rejection of the plan by most stakeholders, except Russia, is an indication that they were not consulted.
For the plan to become acceptable to the players, especially Ukraine and its allies, China needs to return it by talking to them first.
Certainly, the peace plan is not likely to go far in achieving its laudable objectives.
As Prof. Shi Yin Hong has observed, no side of the war would sit at the negotiation table to deliberate on the plan in its present form.