National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that China should reach out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to start a conversation that could get Russia and Ukraine on a path to peace. According to Breitbart, Kirby said the conflict could end if China chooses to “play a constructive role” and act more “impartial” towards Russia and Ukraine.
President Xi Jinping of China just departed from Moscow on Wednesday after a two-day visit to Russia where he spent hours speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While both Russia and China revealed that Ukraine was discussed, neither indicated that any definitive plans were made on taking united action in the conflict.
According to Breitbart, President Xi has not communicated with President Zelenskyy since Russia launched its invasion. China has the potential to be impartial, said Kirby, but they need to take a different approach if they want to actually be considered an impartial mediator. Kirby said, if President Xi is willing to speak with President Zelenskyy, and the views and perspectives of Ukrainians can be incorporated into future negotiations, then that is “something that could be seen as impartial.” However, Kirby suggests that with the way things are right now, China is not impartial.
It would not be out-of-the-blue for China to speak to Ukraine. According to Breitbart, “Beijing is one of Russia’s closest allies but maintains friendly relations with Ukraine, as well. Ukraine is a member of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an infrastructure plan in which China ensnares impoverished countries with predatory loans used to pay China to build roads, ports, and railways China later seizes when the countries default on their debts. Zelensky has repeatedly made public appeals to hold a conversation with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, to no avail, and for China to encourage Russia to end its invasion.”
Still, China believes they are impartial while they accuse the United States of having lost a neutral stance. The Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times wrote “if there is a country able to play a role in mediating the Ukraine crisis, it has to be a country with a true neutral stance and a position of justice, and the US has already lost this position,” adding that “China will keep making efforts for mediation, and during Xi’s visit to Russia, the world will hold high expectations of what progress China will make with Russia.”
Kirby said that while he is hopeful that China would “press President Putin to cease bombing Ukrainian cities, hospitals, and schools; to halt the war crimes and atrocities; and to withdraw all his troops,” he is concerned that instead, China will only call for a ceasefire, leaving Russian troops inside Ukrainian territory.
President Joe Biden has been seeking to speak with President Xi, said Kirby, and the White House is still planning on rescheduling Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing, which was canceled earlier after the discovery of the Chinese spy balloon.