President Xi reiterates need for a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis in his conversation with Zelensky

China will send a special envoy to Ukraine to devise a framework of settlement after having detailed discussions with all parties involved in the conflict

April 27, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Xi and China seek peace in Ukraine (Photo: Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

In a follow-up to the 12-point peace proposal to the Ukrainian crisis, Chinese president Xi Jinping had a long telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, April 26. This was the first ever direct conversation between both the leaders since the beginning of the war in February last year.   

During his conversation with Zelensky, Xi noted that the Ukraine crisis is developing in complex ways which also has a grave impact on international geopolitics. He reiterated that dialogue and negotiations were the only viable way out of the crisis.

Asserting that China will neither stand aside and watch the war go on nor try to take advantage of the situation, Xi said that as a permanent member of the UN and a responsible major power, it will try to find a political solution to the crisis.  

Xi also agreed to send a special government representative to Ukraine soon. The envoy will carry out in-depth negotiation with all the parties involved in the conflict in order to find a political solution.

Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the foundation of bilateral ties between China and Ukraine, Xi emphasized. He asserted that his country stands for peace in the region.    

Though he did not mention the war, Zelensky claimed that he had a “long and meaningful”  conversation with Xi and expressed hope of better relations with China in future.

Zelensky also announced the appointment of his country’s ambassador to China for the first time since February 2021.   

Russia welcomed the phone conversation between both the leaders and appreciated China’s readiness to find a negotiated settlement of the conflict. However, Maria Zakharova, Russian Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added that, “so far, the Kiev regime has been rejecting all reasonable initiatives aimed at finding a political and diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis.” 

12-point peace proposal 

China published a 12 point position paper on the Ukrainian crisis in February, laying out a basic outline on a negotiated settlement. It criticized provocative actions by the Western countries against Russia and their supplying of weapons to Ukraine. China asked the West to resist its cold war mentality of military blocks and focus on implementing the principles of the UN charter without exception.   

During his visit to Moscow last month, Xi had expressed his willingness to talk to Zelensky. 

Though the US and other countries in the West were lukewarm to the Chinese proposal, Zelensky had expressed his willingness to engage with China. 

Talks between Russia and Ukraine have not taken place since they broke down in April last year under tremendous Western pressure on Ukraine. The West has emphasized that until Russia withdraws completely from Ukraine, there can be no negotiations, and has continued to provide Ukraine with billions of dollars of weapons. 

During Zelensky’s visit to the US in December, he had reiterated the Western stance on negotiations and demanded that Russia withdraw from all Ukrainian territories and face a war tribunal before talks can resume. Russia rejected the conditions.

Though China has not been critical of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine, it has at the same time refused to toe the line propagated by the West. China believes that Russia’s concerns about the threats of its national security caused by the eastern expansion of NATO need to be addressed before any meaningful peace can be achieved in the region.