Chinese envoy Li Hui, charged with promoting Xi Jinping’s peace plan for Ukraine, issued a tough demand to Western diplomats with whom he held talks in European capitals.
China insists that Russia retain the occupied Ukrainian territories, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing officials familiar with the outcome of Li Hui’s European tour.
Visiting Warsaw, Berlin, Paris and Brussels, the Chinese diplomat, a former ambassador to Moscow, called for ending the Russia-Ukraine conflict as soon as possible and preventing it from escalating, sources told the WSJ.
According to them, though, the Chinese ideas were met without enthusiasm. “We explained that freezing the conflict is not in the interests of the world community unless there is a withdrawal of Russian troops (from Ukraine)”, – a diplomat who spoke to Li told the WSJ.
He added that the Chinese envoy was made to understand that “it is impossible to separate Europe and America”, – and that European support for Ukraine would continue.
China’s interest, according to WSJ sources, appears to be that Russia does not lose the war and does not resort to the use of nuclear weapons. Although it is too early to dismiss Beijing’s efforts to resolve the crisis, the EU doubts that China is willing to be an impartial negotiator, given its close ties with Moscow, the sources said.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has increased its purchases of Russian oil by 1.4 times, coal by 127 percent and aluminum by 200 percent. Chinese exports to Russia reached a record $9.5 billion a month (+153% in April), and total trade jumped 30% last year and another 38% in the first quarter of this year. Chinese President Xi Jinping was the only world leader to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, against whom the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant.
According to WSJ sources, EU countries are concerned about the rapprochement between Putin and Xi and share the position of the United States, which insists that there can be no peace in Ukraine without a complete withdrawal of Russian troops.
The same position was voiced by Li Hui in Kiev, where the Chinese diplomat visited on May 17. “There is no force that will force Ukrainian society and leadership to talk to the Russians today – as long as we have Russian troops”, – the head of the president’s office, Andrii Yermak, explained in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
According to him, it was made clear to the Chinese special representative that there will be no territorial compromises”. Kiev communicated the same position to the Brazilian delegation, Yermak said.