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Xi sends new representative to EU for Russian invasion

Focus on China / Europe


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China is sending its new Russian-invasion envoy, Li Hui, to Europe next week to seek a political settlement for Moscow's Ukraine annexation.

Li is Beijing's former ambassador to Russia, and his new title is "special representative for Eurasian affairs."

His planned stops, beginning Monday, include Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany, and Russia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters Friday in Beijing.


Photo: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on May 12, 2023


CCTV: China announced earlier that the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs will visit Ukraine and other countries. Can you share more information with us? "Wang Wenbin: Starting from May 15, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui will travel to Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia for communication on a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.

Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, China has held an objective and just position and actively promoted talks for peace. President Xi Jinping has put forward four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine, which outline China’s fundamental approach to the issue. On this basis, China released its Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis, which reflects the above core ideas of China’s stance and takes into account the legitimate concerns of all parties, and has thus received extensive understanding and recognition from the international community. This upcoming visit by the Chinese representative again reflects China’s commitment to promoting peace talks and staying on the side of peace.

As the Ukraine crisis drags on and escalates, the world continues to experience the spillover effects of the crisis. The voices for ceasefire and deescalation are building in the international community. China will continue to play a constructive role and build more international consensus on ending hostilities, starting peace talks and preventing escalation of the situation, and help facilitate a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis."


"As the Ukraine crisis drags on and escalates, the world continues to experience the spillover effects of the crisis," Wenbin said Friday, without explaining what he means by "escalation," though his timing suggests Beijing may be leaning toward protecting Russian interests since Moscow's invading soldiers and convicts seem to now be preparing to lose at least some occupied territory while Ukraine pivots from defensive to offensive operations—and because China's Foreign Ministry last year claimed it was NATO's fault that Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.


"The voices for ceasefire and de-escalation are building in the international community," Wenbin said Friday, and added, "China will continue to play a constructive role and build more international consensus on ending hostilities, starting peace talks and preventing escalation of the situation, and help facilitate a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis."


Furthermore, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, this week for two days of talks in Vienna. Wang used to be China's Foreign Minister, but was moved to a new office late last year; his new, longer title is Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission.


According to the White House's readout, the two men spoke about "global and regional security issues, Russia's war against Ukraine, and cross-[Taiwan] Strait issues." (For the record, China's readout of that meeting was subtly different—but not too terribly so, as Yale Law School's Moritz Rudolf detailed in a Twitter thread Thursday.)


In Beijing, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns for what the later described as an “open and detailed discussion on the bilateral trade relationship.” On Monday Burns and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang met and spoke about the necessity of “stabilizing” Sino-U. S. relations.


The flurry of activity, the most senior level talks in months, comes as China continues a charm offensive in Europe and leverages recent diplomatic wins, from the brokering of Saudi-Iran ties to Beijing’s growing partnership with Russia, to present itself as a credible global leader.


As The Washington Post reports, the flurry of activity, the most senior level talks in months, comes as China continues a charm offensive in Europe and leverages recent diplomatic wins, from the brokering of Saudi-Iran ties to Beijing’s growing partnership with Russia, to present itself as a credible global leader.


“In a moment when they are actively wooing the Europeans and trying to convince them to strike out a path that’s independent of the United States in the way they deal with China, it’s in their interest to project an image of responsibly managing the competition,” said Amanda Hsiao, senior China analyst at the Crisis Group think tank.


Qin was in Berlin, Paris and Oslo this week for talks. China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, a senior diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Moscow, will travel to Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia starting Monday, according to an announcement by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

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