Can China bring peace between Russia and Ukraine?

Experts and commentators have spent a lot of words on some kind of new world order or new geopolitical reality after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. But a new world order is rarely born without a major crisis. The post world war II bipolar order was born after the devastation of the deadliest war in history. The unipolar moment, the liberal world order, was a product of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing chaos and economic upheaval that followed in Russia.

The transition from the so-called liberal world, a world firmly under the guidance of the United States, to a multipolar world, is not likely to more peaceful or less painful. Could this be China’s moment to participate in the creation of a new a world order? Surely this is not going to be well-seen in some quarters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that his country is ready to become a mediator between the Russia and Ukraine.

“China is ready to continue playing a constructive role in advancing the peace talks and working with the international community to implement the necessary mediation when needed,” Wang Yi said.

Chinese diplomats keep emphasizing that they uphold their core principles — respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity (including that of Ukraine) — and encourage diplomatic steps aimed at a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis. So far no constructive efforts have been made to de-escalate.

At the same time, Wang Yi confirmed that “the friendship between Russia and China is as strong as a rock” and is an important part of bilateral relations in the world.

“The development of Chinese-Russian relations has a clear historical logic and a powerful internal driving force. The friendship between the two peoples is strong as a rock, and the prospects for bilateral cooperation are wide,” the minister said.

The unifying factor for the two countries is the struggle against the collective West. By supporting Russian demands for NATO non-expansion, China is showing her own displeasure with the creation of QUAD, an alliance between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States reestablished in 2017, and AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and the US) in the Indo-Pacific region.

Chinese media accuses the United States of fomenting war on the European continent because of its unwillingness to take into account the security interests of all parties and also consider the Russian-Ukrainian war in the context of the confrontation between Moscow and NATO.

According to Beijing, the US wants to take advantage of the crisis in its own interests and restore its position in the world. It seems difficult that the US, a major player in the Ukrainian crisis, would be able to accept any terms agreed between Russia and Ukraine if the negotiations help with the help of China. The US purports to see the world is terms of democracies versus autocracies and China does not qualify as a democracy in the US worldview.

On the other hand, the US, in spite of its insistence on diplomacy, took the side of Ukraine from the very onset of the crisis, with diplomatic and military support, and did little to prevent it. All Russian concerns were flat out rejected. The current war proves that this was not the most pragmatic and successful approach. Yet if China succeeds where the US has failed, this could really be the beginning of a new era.

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