Opinion| The US obstructs the Chinese peace initiative to reap the gains of the Ukrainian war

Marwa El- Shinawy
10 Min Read

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a 12-point proposal for peace in Ukraine on 24 February coinciding with the first anniversary of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The Chinese initiative, which was published on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and entitled “China’s position towards a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine”, stipulates the following items: Respect for the sovereignty of all countries, abandoning the Cold War mentality, stopping hostilities, and resuming peace talks. The Chinese initiative called for finding a solution to the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians, exchanging prisoners of war, preserving the safety of nuclear facilities, reducing strategic threats, and facilitating the export of grain. The initiative also called for an ending of unilateral sanctions, maintaining the stability of industrial and supply chains, and supporting the reconstruction phase.

The Chinese initiative is balanced and considers presenting China as a country that can play a constructive role in solving world problems. For this reason, the initiative included general principles, in addition to the fact that it publicly affirmed respect for the territorial integrity of states. This certainly implies not only criticism of Russia for its annexation of Ukrainian lands, but also criticism of Washington, which works to support Taiwan’s separatist tendencies from China.

The initiative also confirmed China’s position on the war, which it views as a result of NATO’s expansion. The Chinese parliament speaker had previously assured his Russian counterpart of the legitimacy of the Russian war in light of the continued provocations of the United States of America, by attempting to include Ukraine in NATO. Based on that Perspective The document stipulates abandoning the Cold War mentality, emphasizing that “ensuring the security of a country should not be at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved through the strengthening or expansion of military blocs. The security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and addressed appropriately.” 

The terms of the Chinese initiative also showed China’s ability to follow responsible policies that take into account the repercussions of geopolitical crises on the global economic system, in contrast to the reckless US policies that caused many global crises. This is where the document called for maintaining the stability of the industrial and supply chains, stressing that all parties must seriously preserve the existing global economic system and oppose the use of the economy as a means or weapon to achieve political goals, explaining that joint efforts are required to mitigate the repercussions of the crisis and prevent it from disturbing international cooperation in the field of Energy, money, trade, food, and transportation. Beijing also rejected the Western sanctions imposed on Russia, as it does not see any result of these sanctions other than harming the global economy.

Although the Chinese initiative is considered positive and objective, the US administration hastened to question the initiative. US President Joe Biden said in a press statement that this plan “cannot benefit any party other than Russia. Putin applauds it. How can it be a good plan?” In the same context, Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Adviser, said that the document “could have stopped at the first point; respect for the sovereignty of all countries.” He added: “The war may end tomorrow if Russia stops attacking Ukraine and withdraws its forces.”

Camilla Harris, the US Vice President, also responded to the Chinese initiative, saying that the White House certainly has doubts about Chinese neutrality, in addition to the existence of question marks about the reason for the rapid development of relations between the two countries since the beginning of the crisis, in addition to suspicions of Chinese plans to export weapons to Russia. More importantly, the European Union has also fallen behind American skepticism, even though Germany welcomed the initiative. While Germany’s Foreign Minister, Analina Berbock, welcomed China’s endeavor to play a greater role in world peace, the European Union’s foreign policy commissioner, Josep Borrell, declared that he did not see in China’s settlement initiative a viable plan for peace in Ukraine, considering it a “position document that summarizes previous proposals.”.

Obviously, the Biden administration proves in all situations that it only sees and works for its interests. This American administration does not take into account the suffering of the Ukrainian people or even the dangers that the world will be exposed to as a result of this war, which could develop at any moment into a devastating nuclear war. The United States now views China as a strategic adversary only. Therefore, she rejects any attitudes, even if they are positive. This means that the United States will continue its efforts to obstruct the Chinese presence as a major pole in the world system and impede any rapprochement between China and the European Union as well to end this war peacefully.

The US administration is obstructing the Chinese initiative without offering any alternatives, or even working to propose negotiations as an alternative. On the contrary, the US administration is working to fuel the war between Russia and Ukraine by all possible means, deliberately ignoring many undeniable facts.

The first fact is that Russia has already won this round of war. This is because despite the huge aid provided by the United States and its allies to Ukraine, on the one hand, and the unprecedented economic sanctions imposed on Russia, on the other hand, Russia is still steadfast and advanced in the war. More importantly, the negative effects of these sanctions on the economies of Western countries, especially European ones, appear to be stronger than their negative effects on the Russian economy itself.

The second fact is that the United States will not be able to continue providing aid to Ukraine forever. This is where the Washington Post reported, on 13 February, that US officials assured their Ukrainian counterparts that Washington could not do anything and everything forever, and that Western support had a ceiling. They also made it clear that recent Western aid packages to Ukraine represent Kiev’s best chance to decisively change the course of the war.” This was confirmed by the visit of CIA Director William Burns, who stressed that Ukraine must achieve a quick victory in the coming period. 

Undoubtedly, the reaction of the Ukrainian president to the Chinese initiative constituted a new glimmer of hope to end the war. This is where, despite his reservations on some items, the Ukrainian President, Vladimir Zelensky, stated that “it is necessary to work with China to seek a solution to the conflict with Russia, and he intends to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.” Zelensky said in a press conference: “I intend to meet Xi Jinping. This will be important for global security. China respects the territorial integrity and must do everything to ensure that Russia leaves the territory of Ukraine.”

Certainly, the Ukrainian president is now able to save his country from the disaster that he caused from the beginning as a result of his drifting behind American promises. This Chinese initiative is a golden opportunity for Zelensky to correct his mistakes and save his people by adopting peaceful negotiations as an alternative to war. More importantly, this initiative allows Zelensky to liberate himself from the tutelage of the United States of America, the primary beneficiary of this war, as it reaps huge geopolitical, economic, military, and political gains from the Ukrainian crisis, without having to send a single American soldier.

Dr. Marwa El-Shinawy: Assistant Prof. at International American University for Specialized Studies (IAUS)

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