China proves to be the anchor of world peace

The phone call between President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 26 drew global attention with all sides basically appreciating the latest peace effort. Washington also called it “a good thing”, and seemed to be cautiously optimistic about the outcome. The overwhelmingly positive response attests to the global community’s support for China’s efforts to promote world peace.

As I see it, there are three key takeaways from the conversation. 

First, it reconfirmed the strategic partnership between China and Ukraine. As China is on its way to establishing a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with Russia, some countries suspect that China might have taken a “pro-Russia” stance over the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In the phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, however, Xi’s assertion that “China-Ukraine relations, after 31 years of development, have reached a level of strategic partnership, boosting development and revitalization of the two countries”, has not only cleared up such suspicion but also foiled the sinister plot of those who are eager to drive a wedge between Beijing and Kyiv.

While Ukraine is being held hostage by US-led NATO in their containment strategy against Russia, China espouses a foreign policy devoid of military alliance, confrontation and hostility. Zelensky stated on multiple occasions the importance he attaches to developing the bilateral relationship and advancing cooperation with China. Xi also stressed over the phone that “China’s readiness to develop relations with Ukraine is consistent and clear-cut. No matter how the international situation evolves, China will work with Ukraine to advance mutually beneficial cooperation”. 

That China attaches great importance to its strategic partnership with Ukraine highlights the country’s fundamental policy of pooling strengths from all sides to counter the hostility of the US.

Beijing does not want to confront Washington; it is forced to ward off Washington’s all-out suppression campaign. China has no choice but to ensure the survival of its people and safeguard its development interests. 

China understands that a just cause attracts much support while an unjust one finds little. In an interview with Bloomberg on the sidelines of the 2023 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, former US Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers warned of “troubling” signs that the US is losing global influence and getting “lonely” as other powers align. He added that while there’s a growing acceptance of fragmentation, there’s a growing sense that the US may not be the best fragment to be associated with. He went on to express his concern by quoting someone from a developing country, “what we get from China is an airport. What we get from the US is a lecture”.  Summers’ lamentation, which contrasts with the outpouring global recognition of Xi’s phone call with Zelensky, proves China stands on the right side of history.

The phone call was followed by the appointment of a former Ukrainian minister as the country’s new ambassador to China, which is seen as a positive response from Ukraine to China’s friendly gesture.

Second, the phone call reveals China’s firm opposition to a nuclear war. Western media outlets are circulating rumors that Ukraine is about to launch a counteroffensive against Russia. US media even reported that Ukraine had planned to attack the Russian mainland. Escalating tension has driven the situation to the brink of a nuclear war.

The phone call coincided with the release of the Washington Declaration after a meeting between US President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol. The two nations will establish a new nuclear consultative group, an entity similar to NATO, and a US nuclear ballistic missile submarine will visit Korea for the first time in 40 years.

This generates a sense of gloom and doom about a looming nuclear war. Xi addressed this critical risk when he spoke with Zelensky, emphasizing that “there is no winner in nuclear wars. On the nuclear issue, all relevant parties must stay calm and exercise restraint, truly act in the interests of their own future and that of humanity, and jointly manage the crisis.” The call for calm and restraint in the face of an imminent nuclear crisis is a manifestation of China’s just cause for safeguarding world peace and the future of mankind.

Third, the phone call suggests China is taking concrete steps to promote peace. Xi said: “China will continue to facilitate talks for peace and make its efforts for early ceasefire and restoration of peace. China will send the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs to Ukraine and other countries to have in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.” We all know there is no easy solution to the intricate Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, to safeguard world peace and the future of humanity, action must be taken without further delay. Conceivably, Washington might not want the conflict to end soon. But European countries generally do not wish to see the conflict escalate into a nuclear war. The odds are high that at least the intensity of the conflict and tension could be kept at the current level.

The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.