Since senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that the Chinese government would issue a position paper on the Ukraine crisis there has been a lot of speculation about what that might entail.
The formal proposals of the position paper remain to be seen. But the value of such a document lies more in whether it contributes to promoting an acceptable solution to ending the hostilities rather than in whether it brings up anything that had previously been unmentioned.
As the bloodshed of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine extends into a second year, nothing is more important than brokering a truce, creating conditions for the two antagonists to sit at the negotiating table. Continued fighting is a formula for disaster not only for the two belligerents, but to Europe and in some ways the world at large.
Whatever biased judgments they have about China’s stance and their perceptions of the “role” it has played in it so far, the United States and European Union should be receptive to Beijing stepping up, trying to do its bit to resolve the crisis. While the proposed Chinese solution may or may not be acceptable to all parties, expounding on its position can at least foster greater understanding of where Beijing stands on the matter.
Nobody holds a crystal ball. But nonetheless, it is expected that the position paper will call for a balanced solution — one that takes every side’s concerns into consideration. One doesn’t have to wait until Friday, when the policy paper is expected to be published, to see this, as China has friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine.
A spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry told the media on Monday that the position paper will reiterate China’s corresponding proposals, including the principles that each country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected, and each country’s reasonable security concerns are worth due attention. These proposals are the backbone of the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper that Beijing released on Tuesday. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Wang accentuated such proposals, saying all parties’ concerns must be considered, “which certainly include both Russia’s and Ukraine’s”.
Given the very contradictory security concerns of those two countries, there may be very different interpretations of what concerns are reasonable, and what are not. Moscow’s opposition to NATO’s expansion and Ukraine’s pursuit of NATO membership, for instance, are difficult to reconcile.
Despite this, it is to be hoped that the Chinese position paper can initiate serious international efforts to at least maneuver a cease-fire in Ukraine and thus open a window of opportunity for talks on a feasible pathway to end the conflict.
Consistent with the concept and principles laid out in the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper, the position document is a demonstration of China’s sincerity and readiness to work with other countries to secure the peaceful settlement of hotspot issues and global stability.
Editorial, China Daily