Ukraine: what to make of China’s peace initiative?

Speaking in Munich on Friday, China’s highest ranking diplomat Wang Yi announced that a peace initiative for Ukraine would be presented on February 24, one year after the Russian invasion began. But at the same time Beijing is considering supplying weapons to Moscow, according to US Secretary of State Blinken. Commentators discuss whether China could act as a mediator — and what it hopes to gain from such a role.

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Not good prerequisites

The taz’s China correspondent Fabian Kretschmer doesn’t hold out much hope for a positive outcome:

“Rationally speaking, Beijing’s initiative is little more than an attempt to present itself as a responsible player on the international stage after a catastrophic loss of image. ... Clearly Beijing also benefits from the current situation. Russia is increasingly dependent on the Chinese economy. And Beijing gets cheap oil, modern fighter planes and political backing from Moscow at the United Nations Security Council. Both states are also united by the will to break through the US-led Western dominance. ... These are not good prerequisites for a neutral mediating role.”

Fabian Kretschmer
The Spectator (GB) /

Beijing could play a constructive role

As Russia’s strategic partner China has a key role to play, The Spectator believes:

“China has far more to lose from openly siding with Moscow than it stands to gain — not least because Beijing does more than 1.5 trillion in annual trade with the US and only 100 billion with Russia. For Xi, the smart move is to continue to withhold serious military support to Moscow, instead seeking to play a constructive role in a post-war deal where Beijing would act as the kind of major military guarantor of Russia’s future territorial integrity that would allow Putin a face-saving way to end his disastrous Ukrainian campaign.”

Matthews Owen
La Repubblica (IT) /

Poised to become a political superpower

China could benefit massively from this initiative, writes MEP Bernard Guetta in La Repubblica:

“Beijing would avert an abrupt standstill in international trade that would have serious repercussions both for its economy and for its political stability. But that is not all. If it succeeds in silencing the weapons in Europe, China would simultaneously rise to the status of a key power — no longer only economically and militarily, but also politically. Its international ascendancy would be strengthened so considerably that it would catch up with the United States in the first quarter of this century and become the second of two superpowers.”

Bernard Guetta