China "Deeply Worried" War In Ukraine Could Spiral Out Of Control
Update(1422): China's foreign ministry has issued a statement within hours after Beijing's top diplomat Wang Yi touched down in Moscow for an official visit:
China’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that Beijing is "deeply worried" that the war in Ukraine could continue to escalate and "spiral out of control," as the conflict continues to rage on nearly one year later.
Foreign Minister Qin Gang appeared to call out the U.S. for its extensive support of Ukraine, urging “the countries concerned to immediately stop adding fuel to the fire, stop blaming China, and stop clamoring for 'Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow.'"
Qin added that Beijing will "continue to promote peace talks" and "provide Chinese wisdom for the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis."
China says President Xi is interested in brokering peace in Ukraine, however, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday charged that "China is trying to have it both ways," given that, "Publicly, they present themselves as a country striving for peace in Ukraine. But privately, as I said, we’ve seen already over these past months the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort."
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Update(1015ET): During top diplomat's Wang Yi's visit to Moscow, The Wall Street Journal is reporting based on its sources that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is planning his own visit to Russia soon, where he'll meet with his counterpart President Vladimir Putin at a moment the war in Ukraine shows no signs of slowing.
"Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to visit Moscow for a summit with Russia’s president in the coming months, according to people familiar with the plan, as Vladimir Putin wages war in Ukraine and portrays himself as a standard-bearer against a U.S.-led global order," WSJ writes Tuesday morning.
And according to unnamed sources, "Beijing says it wants to play a more active role aimed at ending the conflict, and the people familiar with Mr. Xi’s trip plans said a meeting with Mr. Putin would be part of a push for multiparty peace talks and allow China to reiterate its calls that nuclear weapons not be used." However, nothing official from either side has yet to be confirmed.
The Biden administration has angered Beijing over the last several days in issuing repeat warnings against providing the Kremlin with any lethal weapons or military assistance. Despite these efforts, a Xi trip to Moscow would certainly solidify the 'no limits' partnership between the two countries, and with huge symbolism to boot given the timing.
China's top diplomat Wang Yi announced Saturday at the Munich Security Conference that China will seek to roll out a plan focosued on ending the war in Ukraine, saying, "We will put forward China’s position on the political settlement on the Ukraine crisis, and stay firm on the side of peace and dialogue." Meanwhile, during Putin's Tuesday speech...
Putin:— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 21, 2023
"We are not waging war with the Ukrainian people. They are in a hostage situation, politically and militarily, occupied by the West." pic.twitter.com/OSZUhRTYah
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After the weekend back-and-forth of warnings centered on the Biden administration's latest assertions that Beijing is mulling providing lethal aid to Russia in order to help the Kremlin execute its war efforts, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky has weighed in on the deepening Beijing-Moscow partnership.
He warned that WW3 is on the horizon if China begins supplying weapons. "For us, it is important that China does not support the Russian Federation in this war," Zelenskiy told German daily newspaper Die Welt. "In fact, I would like it to be on our side. At the moment, however, I don't think it's possible."
"But I do see an opportunity for China to make a pragmatic assessment of what is happening here," he continued. "Because if China allies itself with Russia, there will be a world war, and I do think that China is aware of that."
Likely China will shrug off Zelensky's provocative comments, given Beijing already told Washington that it's in no position to make demands.
Previously, Biden administration officials had said the US is concerned by "disturbing" trends when it comes to China's support for Russia. Despite prior international media reports, mostly based on speculation, alleging that China was already supplying Russia's war effort in Ukraine, there's as yet no evidence of this.
The timing of the accusations is also important, given on Tuesday China's top diplomat Wang Yi made his first visit as Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office to Russia, having arrived in Moscow.
The day prior, he reiterated Beijing's position that negotiated settlement is needed to solve the Ukraine crisis:
"We would like a political solution to provide a peaceful and sustainable framework to Europe," Wang said ahead of a visit to Moscow during a stop in Hungary, which could result in billions of euros of new Chinese investment in the country.
On Saturday Wang had emphasized something similar in addressing the Munich Security Conference. Calling a room full of European officials "dear friends", he said "We do not add fuel to the fire, and we’re against reaping benefits from this crisis" - in a message aimed squarely at Washington.
What was supposed to be a bilateral meeting with Secretary Blinken never materialized earlier this month due to the Chinese 'spy' balloon shootdown saga...
"This relationship is far too consequential to allow what was a relatively minor security incident to derail [it]. The Wang Yi-Blinken meeting offered an opportunity to begin this process. Unfortunately, it was an opportunity squandered." - @Dalzell60 https://t.co/upoXVJx0cr— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) February 20, 2023
"Some forces might not want to see peace talks to materialize. They don’t care about the life and death of Ukrainians, nor the harm on Europe. They might have strategic goals larger than Ukraine itself. This warfare must not continue," Wang added in the weekend comments.
As for Wang's trip to Moscow, the Kremlin has said a meeting with President Putin could be in the cards, though this is uncertain. "We do not rule out a meeting between Mr. Wang Yi and the [Russian] president, he will indeed be in Moscow," spokesman Dimitry Peskov said in a briefing.