Deception is an art China is adept at. Confirming its dubious credentials, China unveiled its pendulous status on the Ukraine war on 24 February, calling it the 12-Point Position Paper. Deep-dipped in diplomatese, the paper is rich in doublespeak, oozing with ambiguity of convenience. At once, China was brazen enough to tell the world how ambivalent its attitudes towards the Ukraine War are. It is China’s way of misappropriating undeserved neutrality.
Worse, it has taken a year, after the onset of the Ukraine War, for China to state its position on Russia and the War. In a classic case of ambivalence, the paper calls for a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia, but shies away from condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine. By this deliberate indecision, China comes across as a selfish fiend bent on pampering its own expansionist intent at the cost of sovereignty of nations.
Deflecting Global Condemnation
The duplicitous paper was presented during a speech by Wang Yi, China’s seniormost diplomat, in Munich. Mr Yi had no inkling of how this paper would be viewed by the democratic world. As China’s cover-up attempt bombed on the global stage, it was an unmitigated diplomatic disaster, precipitated further by Mr Yi’s deliberate avoidance of Russia-hurting words like ‘invasion’ and ‘war’. China’s claim that the paper was an exercise towards ‘political settlement’ of the ‘crisis’ was phoney at best. Incredulous, the world was watching. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/24/world/asia/china- russia-ukraine-war.html
Deflecting global condemnation, the paper slams unilateral sanctions, issues a clarion call to restart peace talks, demands slashing of strategic risks emanating from nuclear weapons and requests to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations. However, the self-righteous paper shies away from making a specific demand on Russia that it withdraws its troops from Ukraine unconditionally. So much for China’s specious ‘neutrality’.
The Farcical No-Limits Friendship
Yet, China may defend its ‘neutrality’ by stressing on how it has not sent arms and ammunition to Russia. But, the manner in which it has stood by Russia, lending diplomatic and moral support in global fora, is weightier than any. Time and again, China has extended unflinching support to Russia, promoting Vladimir Putin’s web of lies alongside. This position paper is one more proof of China’s undying love for Russia. Nothing better was expected from a mendacious regime with an expansionist mindset. The paper is an unqualified re-assertion of China’s ‘no-limits friendship’ with Russia.
The farcical friendship keeps the lips of Chinese president Xi Jinping sealed, when he is expected to condemn Mr Putin’s illicit war in Ukraine. Such is the bond between them, America has an inkling of China bending further to arm Russia. Against this backdrop, the 12-Point Position Paper looks pointless. More so, as Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, says, “China has already taken sides by signing an unlimited friendship right before the invasion.” She could not have been more direct. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/24/china-calls- for-russia-ukraine-war-peace-talks
Counterweight Against America
Rightly, the prevaricating paper proves China is trying to have it both ways, by seeking both peace and publicity in the same breath. Mr Xi’s paper is trying to facilitate this publicity for Russian arguments rationalising the Ukraine war. Sadly, the paper proves to be a lousy attempt, as it reveals China’s true colours, just like its four abstentions in the United Nation’s General Assembly resolutions, calling for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine, did. Geopoliticists know that China is selfish and cultivating Russia as a counterweight against America. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/02/24/un- ukraine-resolution-vote-countries/
This ulterior intent gets exposed when the paper calls upon countries to banish the ‘cold war mentality’ and the practice of slapping economic sanctions. The motive behind the cold-war invocation is clear. China wants America to stop meddling in the affairs of other nations and help lift sanctions of all sorts against Russia. Plus, China expects America to facilitate a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia.
Fails to Answer Pertinent Questions
If China is really seeking peace, why is it not talking about the need for Russia to withdraw its troops back to Ukraine’s borders in 1991, the year the Soviet Union crumbled. The paper falls short of answering this pertinent poser. A ceasefire, without the withdrawal of Russian troops, does not guarantee peace in Ukraine. Ceasefires just freeze the war, they do not end the war. How can ceasefires stop the re-launch of mindless wars and mass destruction post-ceasefire?
The Chinese Position Paper fails to answer these questions. Viewed through this prism, the paper is neither a peace plan nor a plan of positive action. The paper is a mere academic collation of general peace principles. What then is the immediate provocation behind authoring this position paper? Perhaps China is sending a message of ‘neutrality’ to America, who the dragon thinks might soon launch an armed conflict against China. https://time.com/6251419/us-china-general-war-2025/
In all, the position paper is nothing more than a regurgitation of China’s previously proclaimed positions. Perhaps, China assumes, by repeating its stance again and again, it becomes a universal truism, and China transforms into a paragon of peace. Alongside, it hopes to continue with its mutual back-scratching relationship with Russia. The suspicion is that China is using the Position Paper as a tool of grand distraction.
The timing of the paper confirms this suspicion. Just on 19 February, five days before the unveiling of the paper, American Secretary of State Antony Blinken had raised an alarm over the proximate possibility of China supplying lethal arms to Russia, for use against Ukraine, saying “it is a serious problem for us.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/19/china-may- be-on-brink-of-supplying-arms-to-russia-says-blinken Sure, China’s 12-Point Position Paper, with 892 weasel words, is a laboured attempt to lead rest of the world up the garden path. Bad luck for China, the world is not obliging.