President Xi’s peace ruse fails to fool the West

His telephone talks with President Zelensky will not end Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine

President Xi Jinping has finally launched his peace plan to end Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. But he managed to do it without alienating his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin by refusing to blame the madman in Moscow for the “crisis.”

He did hold discussions with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who described the telephone talks as “long and meaningful.” Still, there appeared to be no mention of “illegal” or “invasion” during his cozy chat.

Even the words “Russia” and “war” were omitted by the official Chinese communiqué.

“China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said before the virtual tête-à-tête had taken place.

Behind the scenes:

  • Russia and China have a “no limits” pact.
  • Chairman of Everything Xi visited Moscow last month for talks with “close friend” President Putin.
  • They sipped champagne as bombs rained down on Ukraine.
  • Strengthening security ties between the two countries, and boosting trade and investment dominated the agenda.

A Chinese role in ceasefires? Screw that. That’s Putin’s position. 

Daniel Fried, the former US assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs

Delve deeper: Behind Xi’s platitudes, there was nothing new in his 12-point plan to end the war in Ukraine. Or, in his conversation with Zelensky.

Between the lines: “A serious policy approach means [China] has to break with Russia. A Chinese role in ceasefires? Screw that. That’s Putin’s position and you don’t need China for that – tell them to take a hike,” Daniel Fried, the former US assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, said as reported by Politico.

Big picture: The talks took place as Beijing faces a major image problem. Last week, China’s ambassador in Paris, Lu Shaye, questioned the sovereignty of not only Ukraine but all the former Soviet Union Republics in a French television interview.

The fallout: “If anyone is still wondering why the Baltic States don’t trust China to ‘broker peace in Ukraine,’ here’s a Chinese ambassador arguing that Crimea is Russian and our countries’ borders have no legal basis,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis wrote on Twitter at the time.

Alternative view: “It should be noted that since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the United States and Western public opinion has thrown a lot of mud on China, even creating rumors in an attempt to drag China down. But a clean hand wants no washing,” state-run tabloid Global Times said in an editorial about the talks. 

China Factor comment: Xi had no option but to chat with Zelensky after Ambassador Lu’s diplomatic gaffe. Even if his remarks do represent the broad view of China’s ruling Communist Party elite. For that reason, it is unlikely to lead to lasting peace in the Ukraine.