State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu is paying an official visit to Russia from Sunday to Thursday. That Li should make a neighboring country the destination for his first overseas visit since taking office in March would have provoked little comment prior to the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine.
Yet, even before Li started his trip, some Western media were engaging in far-fetched speculation, either by interpreting it as a trip to "reshape the world order" and "weaken American influence" or hyping up the possibility of China "providing weapons to Russia".
Such claims are based on neither reason nor facts but instead are in essence malicious smears. Since China adopts an impartial and independent stance toward the Ukraine crisis, it has become an ill trend in the West that each time China interacts with Russia, it is accused of colluding with it to upend the rules-based world order.
China has repeatedly said its relations with Russia are no alliance, no confrontation and do not target any third party. In fact, this is the principle the country sticks to in friendly relations with all countries.
Since the 1990s, the United States, alongside Russia, used to be the destination for the Chinese defense minister's first visit of the year. But, at that time, the US mostly regarded China as a constructive partner, not a competitor and rival.
Even some Western media have admitted that the majority of the world's countries share the same or a similar stance with China on the Ukraine crisis. But with Washington adopting a narrow world view and playing zero-sum games to maintain the US' hegemony, it has developed a penchant for judging others according to its own values and ideology.
Contrary to its claims though, China is not a party to the crisis. Like other peace-loving countries, it hopes the conflict can be resolved as soon as possible as the negative effects of the escalating crisis are affecting the entire world.
It has taken a series of moves to help broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, and detailed its stance in a 12-point position paper promoting a political settlement of the conflict. Its proposals aimed at ending the conflict through dialogue and negotiation have gained more and more support in the world arena as they are in line with the common aspirations of the international community and the fundamental long-term interests of the world.
Finger-pointing at China and smearing its normal relations with Russia will not contribute one iota to resolving the Ukraine crisis peacefully. But as recent leaked Pentagon papers show, that is not part of the US' plans. As such, it will attempt to subvert or sabotage any efforts that China may make to do so, including by smearing China's friendly ties with Russia.