Western powers cannot tell Beijing what to do about Russia over its war in Ukraine, China’s ambassador to Russia said Friday.
“It was not the Chinese side that created the Ukrainian crisis, the [People’s Republic of China] is not a party to it and has not provided weapons to any of the parties to the conflict,” Zhang Hanhui said in an interview with Russian daily Izvestia.
“The West is not in a position to give instructions to China, and even more so does not have the authority to throw responsibility on it,” Zhang added.
In spite of being one of Moscow’s top allies, China has sought to position itself as a middleman between Russia and Ukraine, putting forward a 12-point peace plan in February.
But there have been rising concerns that China might be supplying weapons to Russia. Last month, POLITICO reported that Chinese companies, including one connected to the government in Beijing, had sent Russian entities 1,000 assault rifles, drone parts and body armor.
The Chinese ambassador’s comments come amid a much-awaited joint visit from French President Emmanuel Macron and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to China. On Thursday, both leaders urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to step up peacemaking efforts — albeit with different methods.
Macron took a softer stance, telling Xi he “count[ed] on [him] to bring Russia back to reason,” while von der Leyen’s approach was more direct. The Commission president warned against supplying weapons to Moscow: “Arming the aggressor is a clear violation of international law — he should never be armed,” she said.
“This would indeed significantly harm the relationship between the European Union and China,” von der Leyen added.
But Xi seemed unmoved by these efforts, and stuck to Beijing’s talking points on the war in Ukraine, which closely echo the Russian position.
“Peace talks should be resumed as soon as possible, taking into account the reasonable security concerns of all sides with reference to the U.N. Charter,” the Chinese leader said.
Friday’s comments from China’s ambassador to Russia were strikingly similar.
“What the Chinese side is doing can be summed up in one phrase: calling for peace and promoting negotiations,” Zhang said.
Source : POLITICO