Ukraine’s aspiration to return its lands to the internationally recognized 1991 borders meets China’s position on respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, Chinese Ambassador to the European Union Fu Kong said in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Asked about supporting Kiev’s goals, which include the liberation of all Russian-occupied regions, including Crimea annexed in 2014, the diplomat said: “Why not?”.
“We respect the territorial integrity of all countries. That’s why when China established relations with the former Soviet Union, that’s what we agreed on. But as I said, these are historical issues that should be discussed and resolved by Russia and Ukraine, and that’s what we stand for”, Fu said.
The ambassador’s comments came after the Europe-China Business Summit held in Brussels on June 16. Fu had already said in an interview with the New York Times in the spring that Beijing does not recognize Russia’s attempts to annex Ukrainian territories, including Crimea and Donbass. The diplomat also stressed that China had not and would not provide military assistance to Moscow.
At the same time, Fu noted that Beijing did not condemn the invasion of Ukraine because it understood Russia’s position, which attributed the conflict to the need for protection from NATO encroachment. The Chinese leadership believes that “the root causes of the crisis are more complex” than Western leaders claim, the diplomat explained.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has annexed Crimea and supported separatists in parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine. These regions, as well as the Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions, were annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a war that began on Feb. 24, 2022. The “formalized” annexation in September was supported only by North Korea and Syria.
On the anniversary of the Russian invasion, China presented its plan for peace. The 12-point document calls for respect for sovereignty, a cease-fire and the resumption of negotiations, but contains no concrete steps.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also pointed this out. At the same time, he noted that there were points in China’s plan that could be worked with. In general, Kyiv insists on its own “peace formula”, according to which the key condition for negotiations is the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the country’s territory within the 1991 borders.
NATO was skeptical about Beijing’s initiatives. Bloc Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that China had not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so there was “no confidence in it. U.S. President Joe Biden called the plan “beneficial only to Russia”.
For his part, Putin argued that many of the provisions of the Chinese document were “consonant with Russia’s approaches” and could be taken as a basis for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Ukraine.