On February 23, with the first anniversary of Russia’s launch of its Special Military Operation in Ukraine, China issued a 12-point document, setting out its official position on the conflict.
The 12 points are:
- Respecting the sovereignty of all countries
- Abandoning the Cold War mentality
- Ceasing hostilities
- Resuming peace talks
- Resolving the humanitarian crisis
- Protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs)
- Keeping nuclear power plants safe
- Reducing strategic risks
- Facilitating grain exports
- Stopping unilateral sanctions
- Keeping industrial and supply chains stable
- Promoting post-conflict reconstruction
Regarding the first point concerning respect for the sovereignty of all countries, the Chinese Foreign Ministry calls for strict observance of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. It stresses that: “The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld. All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community.” Significantly, considering the long and continuing record of the imperialist powers in failing to observe and flagrantly breaching these principles, it adds, in a point that has been expressed in one way or another by numerous countries of the Global South, that: “Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected.”
On the need to abandon the Cold War mentality, the document states: “The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and addressed properly.” This underscores that part of the complex background to the present tragic situation lies in the steady expansion of the aggressive NATO alliance right to the borders of Russia, in breach of repeated promises made to Soviet and Russian leaders at the time of the collapse of the USSR. It also alludes to the proposed accession of hitherto ostensibly neutral Finland and Sweden to NATO. It continues by calling for the forging of a “a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture,” and working together for peace and stability on the Eurasian continent. Such proposals, in one form or another, have been advanced over the years by a number of countries, including France and Russia. They are, of course, bitterly opposed by the United States, as the prospect of the countries and peoples of Europe and the wider Eurasian space making their own arrangements and settling their own problems would correspondingly reduce the superpower’s capacity for hegemonic meddling, division and domination.
The document calls for resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, noting that dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the crisis. It should be noted here that such negotiations between Russia and Ukraine had resulted in at least the broad outlines of an agreed settlement as far back as last April, but this was scuppered by outside intervention, not least a hurried visit to the Ukrainian capital by then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Since then the peace process has been aborted and the conflict has escalated, thanks to massive infusions of western military support, making the proxy nature of the conflict completely transparent.
China reaffirms that it opposes armed attacks against nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities. Ukrainian forces have repeatedly shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and obstructed international inspectors. It further notes that: “Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed.” This not only reflects the fact that China is the only one of the five recognised nuclear powers that has consistently and unequivocally stood for a ‘no first use’ policy, but also the fact that the quoted statement embodies an agreed position taken by the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France not long before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also insists that: “Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the issue; they only create new problems…Relevant countries should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ against other countries.” Unilateral sanctions are a kind of ‘smokeless warfare’ deployed by the United States against any country that displeases it or fails to dance to its tune. In a clearly well-prepared operation, they have been deployed against Russia, to a maximum and still escalating extent, since the start of the special military operation. Equally, the US uses ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ on an industrial scale, against adversaries and allies alike, as this recent detailed presentation published by the Xinhua News Agency makes clear.
Below is the full text of the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement. It originally appeared on the ministry’s website.
1. Respecting the sovereignty of all countries. Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld. All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. All parties should jointly uphold the basic norms governing international relations and defend international fairness and justice. Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected.
2. Abandoning the Cold War mentality. The security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and addressed properly. There is no simple solution to a complex issue. All parties should, following the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and bearing in mind the long-term peace and stability of the world, help forge a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture. All parties should oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security, prevent bloc confrontation, and work together for peace and stability on the Eurasian Continent.
3. Ceasing hostilities. Conflict and war benefit no one. All parties must stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and aggravating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control. All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire.
4. Resuming peace talks. Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. All efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be encouraged and supported. The international community should stay committed to the right approach of promoting talks for peace, help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.
5. Resolving the humanitarian crisis. All measures conducive to easing the humanitarian crisis must be encouraged and supported. Humanitarian operations should follow the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and humanitarian issues should not be politicized. The safety of civilians must be effectively protected, and humanitarian corridors should be set up for the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones. Efforts are needed to increase humanitarian assistance to relevant areas, improve humanitarian conditions, and provide rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, with a view to preventing a humanitarian crisis on a larger scale. The UN should be supported in playing a coordinating role in channeling humanitarian aid to conflict zones.
6. Protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs). Parties to the conflict should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, avoid attacking civilians or civilian facilities, protect women, children and other victims of the conflict, and respect the basic rights of POWs. China supports the exchange of POWs between Russia and Ukraine, and calls on all parties to create more favorable conditions for this purpose.
7. Keeping nuclear power plants safe. China opposes armed attacks against nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities, and calls on all parties to comply with international law including the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) and resolutely avoid man-made nuclear accidents. China supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in playing a constructive role in promoting the safety and security of peaceful nuclear facilities.
8. Reducing strategic risks. Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crisis avoided. China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances.
9. Facilitating grain exports. All parties need to implement the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Russia, Türkiye, Ukraine and the UN fully and effectively in a balanced manner, and support the UN in playing an important role in this regard. The cooperation initiative on global food security proposed by China provides a feasible solution to the global food crisis.
10. Stopping unilateral sanctions. Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the issue; they only create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the UN Security Council. Relevant countries should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” against other countries, so as to do their share in deescalating the Ukraine crisis and create conditions for developing countries to grow their economies and better the lives of their people.
11. Keeping industrial and supply chains stable. All parties should earnestly maintain the existing world economic system and oppose using the world economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes. Joint efforts are needed to mitigate the spillovers of the crisis and prevent it from disrupting international cooperation in energy, finance, food trade and transportation and undermining the global economic recovery.
12. Promoting post-conflict reconstruction. The international community needs to take measures to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict zones. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this endeavor.