China Floats a Peace Plan

But NATO questions credibility of a government growing closer to Russia
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2023 2:45 PM CST
West Isn't Buying China's Peace Plan
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose before talks in Beijing on Feb. 4.   (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Although Ukraine didn't rule it out, NATO and EU leaders were dismissive of a 12-point peace proposal issued Friday by China, saying its increasing ties to Russia disqualify the Beijing government from playing mediator. "China doesn't have much credibility," said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, "because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine." China's highest-ranking diplomat promised to strengthen its relationship with Russia on a trip to Moscow this week, the Guardian reports, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China appears to be considering supplying weapons to Russia.

The proposal is addressed more to other nations, without calling for specific steps by Ukraine or Russia. It uses stern wording in opposing the use of nuclear weapons or the threat of it, as well as the development of chemical and biological weapons. "Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crisis avoided," the document says, while urging other nations to facilitate peace negotiations in which China would play a role. Other admonitions appear aimed at the US and the West, as when it warns against "expanding military blocs"—as in NATO.

That's a Russian argument rejected by Ukraine and the West, that the war was started to keep Ukraine out of NATO, and it appears five lines into the paper. Many in the West saw the flaws in the proposal, which calls the fighting "the Ukraine crisis" and not a war, as fundamental. "The position paper doesn't take into account who is the aggressor and who is the victim of an illegal and unjustified war of aggression," an EU spokeswoman said, per Politico. China's Foreign Ministry released the proposal on the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion, which was marked by protests around the world. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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