what the Chinese “peace plan” really contains
FOCUS – On February 24, China unveiled its “position on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis” in twelve points. Vladimir Putin said he was ready to discuss it during Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow.
China’s position in the war in Ukraine has never ceased to be ambiguous. From the very first days of the Russian invasion, the Middle Kingdom made a point of always abstaining from voting at the UN General Assembly, never condemning the invasion, while calling for a conflict resolution. A way of sparing the goat and the cabbage, and of placing oneself in the position of mediator. On Monday, newly re-elected Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled for a state visit to Russia, praising the strength of their bilateral partnership.
On this occasion, Vladimir Putin said he was ready to discuss the “peace plan” proposed by Beijing to settle the conflict in Ukraine. “We are always open to a negotiation process. We will no doubt discuss all these matters, including your initiatives, which we treat with respect.“said the Russian president. On Tuesday, he accused Ukraine of not wanting this “peace plan”.
This document published on February 24 is in fact not a “peace planstrictly speaking. It is also titled:China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis“. Le Figaro comes back to the 12 points of this text, which rather constitutes a catalog of good intentions and a way for China to place its pawns.
Defuse the War
Respect the sovereignty of all countries: in its first point, China calls for respect for the “universally recognized right, including the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations“. To know : “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries“. This assumption therefore also applies to Russia. But the Kremlin claims to respect this principle, because for it, the annexed territories are an integral part of Russian sovereignty.
Letting go of the Cold War mentality: in its second point, China submits that “the security of one country should not be sought at the expense of others” and “the security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs“. This position is clearly aimed at NATO, which wants to soon integrate Finland, bordering Russia, and even Ukraine in the longer term. It is above all about the discourse that the Kremlin held before launching the invasion of Ukraine.
Cease hostilities and resume peace talks: in these third and fourth points, China assumes the posture of the mediator, calling for a “global ceasefire» and at the resumption of «dialogue and negotiation” For “open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible“. But these two points look like a pious wish, as the requirements of each are, for the time being, totally incompatible. On the one hand, Moscow demands that Ukraine accept the “new territorial realitiesand therefore Russian borders including the four Ukrainian oblasts. On the other hand, kyiv demands the restoration of “territorial integrity“, therefore the return to the borders before the Russian invasion of February 24, 2022 and even before 2014. Two irreconcilable positions as long as one of the belligerents has not collapsed or that the two camps accept the idea that neither of them can win completely.
Reduce collateral risks
Solve the humanitarian crisis and protect civilians and prisoners of war: in these fifth and sixth points, China believes that “humanitarian issues should not be politicizedand calls for the establishment ofhumanitarian corridorsfor the evacuation of civilians. Beijing also asks the belligerents to “avoid attacking civilians or civilian installationsclearly aimed here at the Russian campaigns of massive strikes on energy infrastructure and on Ukrainian cities.
Ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants: in this seventh point, China clearly calls for not using Ukrainian nuclear facilities as military leverage. The fighting around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is particularly affected by this request. The infrastructure has been the target since February 24 of fierce clashes, which raise fears of a potential atomic accident.
Reduce strategic risks: “nuclear weapons should not be used and nuclear wars should not be fought“, indicates China in its eighth point. And to add:The threat or use of nuclear weapons must be resisted“. This obvious principle is aimed at Russia and, to a lesser extent, the NATO countries with nuclear weapons. But the Kremlin will be able to defend itself by considering that it has never explicitly threatened to use these weapons, since it has contented itself since the beginning of the war with evoking the use of “all its arsenal available»…
save the world economy
Facilitate grain exports: in its ninth point, China calls “all parties to implement the Black Sea Grains Initiative signed by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN“. A piece of advice which those concerned are happy to do without, since the agreement has already been extended on March 18, Turkey announced.
Stop unilateral sanctions: the tenth point of the Chinese document is aimed directly at the West. According to the Middle Kingdom,unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the problem“. He therefore calls forstop abusingof these retaliatory measures. If China takes such a firm position on this point, it is because the sanctions against Russia also affect it. And that she could in turn be struck by it, if she were to become more deeply involved in the conflict.
Maintain the stability of industrial and supply chains: in this eleventh point, China also takes into account its own case. “All parties should sincerely uphold the existing global economic system and oppose the use of the global economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes.“, she writes. This proposal, which concerns the areasenergy, finance, food trade and transportis closely related to the previous one, as it also affects China.
Promote post-conflict reconstruction: through this twelfth and last point, China wants to once again show its role as a major nation, anticipating the post-war period. “China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this endeavour.“, she says. While Ukraine is already trying to mobilize its international allies on the subject, Beijing intends to bring its stone to the building, to weigh a little more on the world stage at the end of the conflict.