BEIJING - China is “very concerned” that the war in Ukraine will escalate out of control, said its Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday as he called on countries to stop providing military support to Ukraine.
“We urge relevant countries to immediately stop adding fuel to the fire, stop shifting the blame to China, and stop hyping up talk that the situation in Ukraine today will be Taiwan tomorrow,” said Mr Qin, in a thinly veiled reference to the United States and other Western nations which have been providing military aid to Ukraine.
Speaking at the Lanting Forum, a security conference in Beijing, Mr Qin said Beijing will continue to “promote peace talks and provide Chinese wisdom” for a political solution to the conflict.
“We will work with the international community to promote dialogue and consultation to address the concerns of all parties and seek common security,” he said.
His remarks came in tandem with the release of a lengthy paper on China’s “Global Security Initiative (GSI)”, which Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed in April 2022 to set out China’s broad principles on international conflicts.
The paper said the “legitimate and reasonable security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously and addressed properly”.
“Any country, while pursuing its own security, should take into account the reasonable security concerns of others,” said the paper, which is seen by some experts as an effort to supplant the US-led security order.
While the paper did not directly name the US or its allies, it criticised their use of “unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction”, pointing out that they do not solve problems but only create more difficulties and complications.
The US and other Western nations have used economic sanctions to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
In recent years, Washington has also imposed economic and tech sanctions on China as competition between the two superpowers intensified.
Mr Qin’s remarks and the GSI paper – coming in the week when the Russian invasion of Ukraine marks its first anniversary – are viewed as a ramping up of China’s efforts to shape global discourse on the war. They pave the way for an expected “peace speech” by Mr Xi on Friday.
Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi is currently in Moscow and could possibly meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Professor Zhu Feng, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Nanjing University, told The Straits Times that Beijing does not want the US’ narrative of the war to dominate and wants to add its voice to the current US-led global order.
The war’s origin was largely due to Ukraine’s pro-American position and the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which “greatly weakened and damaged Russia’s security interests”, he said.
“On the issue of the Ukraine war, China cannot allow the US to unilaterally explain its origin and cause,” he added.
Beijing has been strengthening its relationship with Moscow, deepening trade and military cooperation with its neighbour.
Experts say China is careful to stop short of providing military support to Russia, but the close relationship between the two countries is creating reservations among the US and its allies.
Beijing, which declared a “no limits” partnership with Moscow a year ago, has so far not condemned its neighbour’s actions in Ukraine.