On February 19, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi met with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba during the Munich Security Conference held in Germany. Wang revealed to Kuleba that China does not want the crisis to prolong and is willing to cooperate with the international community to maintain peace.
“We do not want to see the crisis in Ukraine prolonged and expanded, and are willing to work with the international community to avoid further deterioration of the situation and persistently strive for peace,” said Wang to Kuleba in the conference.
Wang Yi giving speech in the 2023 Munich Security Conference. (Photo credit: Financial Times)
Since Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion on Ukraine on February 24, the war is now around its one-year mark. The crisis has been one of the largest military conflicts since World War II causing an estimate of 100,000 casualties both sides’ soldiers respectively, and around 19,000 Ukrainian civilians killed according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights so far.
Number of civilian casualties in Ukraine in the Ukraine war by February 12, 2023. (Graph: Statista)
The war aroused great attention and reaction from states and governments around the globe. After the outbreak of the war, many countries, especially the European countries and the United States, has been condemning Russia for starting the war and committing war crimes on international platforms, as well as imposing economic sanctions on Russia as punishment and hoping to force Russia to stop the war.
While the Western countries isolated Russia in the international community, China’s refusal to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine and insistence on maintaining its friendly diplomatic relationships with Russia have heightened tension between China and the West. Despite China has been claiming that it holds a neutral position regarding warfare, the European countries and the United States doubt China for helping Russia in the war.
Seeing the crisis nears its one-year mark, the Munich Security Conference was called between February 17 to February 19 to hold an international discussion regarding warfare issues between Ukraine and Russia. About 40 heads of state and governments and experts from around 100 countries were gathered at the conference in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
Ukrainian military medics carrying an injured Ukrainian serviceman to a hospital in Donetsk region, Ukraine. (Photo credit: Associated Press)
As the top senior foreign official, Wang Yi joined as a Chinese representative and gave a speech during the conference, announcing that China would launch a proposal about China’s peace initiatives and stance in the war as close to the one-year mark of the crisis, continuing to talk on peace-keeping cooperation with the West.
“We need to think calmly, especially our friends in Europe, about what efforts should be made to stop the warfare; what framework should there be to bring lasting peace to Europe; what role should Europe play to manifest its strategic autonomy,” said Wang in the Munich Conference.
Wang continues to reveal China’s intention to stop the war on the last day of the conference, by telling Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, that China is always insisting to persist peace and urge peaceful conversation. In response, Kuleba valued China’s position and influence, and expressed expectations of China’s constructive actions in the future, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
Despite China’s peace intention having surprised the international community, Western countries remain suspicious regarding China’s peace plan and whether it is helping Russia in the war.
As the war approaches its one-year anniversary, countries continue to take on action in responding to the Ukraine War. Yesterday on February 20, the United States made a surprise visit to Kyiv in showing supporting support for Ukraine. Meanwhile, Wang would be visiting Moscow this week, and issues regarding the crisis would be discussed.
Featured image: Alison Chan