China's peace plan: a promising initiative?

On the first anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Beijing presented a 12-point plan aimed at resolving the conflict. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the demand to preserve the "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries", although Kyiv remains sceptical about other points. French President Macron has praised the initiative and announced a trip to China. Europe's press is divided.

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Denik (CZ) /

This could save Russia

Deník is enthusiastic:

“The most important thing now is that China has really started working with the West, Ukraine and yes, Russia, to achieve a just peace. Its foundation is the goal that the aggressor, Russia, will be left without any spoils of war. And that Russia will pay for the damage caused by its unprovoked attack on Ukraine. Beijing may have come to the conclusion before Moscow that this war is lost for Russia and that there is no way it can win. China may just be saving its strategic partner from total collapse and catastrophic defeat with immeasurable consequences.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Openness required

China's efforts should not be dismissed out of hand, the Times of Malta insists:

“The West has been largely dismissive of this plan. Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described it as lacking credibility, since Beijing has not condemned the invasion of Ukraine. Ursula von der Leyen added that China had already taken sides. However there have also been some signs of openness to the Chinese plan. The Ukrainian government has welcomed it. ... Emmanuel Macron has also signalled that he intends to visit China in April, and continues to urge Beijing to pressure Russia into ending the war and not to supply any arms. There is, perhaps, a growing realisation that more openness to dialogue is required.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Not a neutral mediator

The positive elements of the plan cannot dispel the doubts, says Sydsvenskan:

“Certainly there were elements in the Chinese statement that sound excellent. For example, the establishment of humanitarian corridors through which the civilian population can be evacuated. And the stipulation that nuclear facilities must be protected and no nuclear weapons used in the fighting. The fact that the country is getting involved at all is already progress. ... Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the Chinese proposal will become reality. Because even if China has declared itself neutral in the conflict - it is mostly seen as a close partner of Vladimir Putin's Russia. At least the use of the word 'crisis' instead of the correct word 'war' indicates exactly that.”

Público (PT) /

React to hypocrisy with hypocrisy

It would be a mistake for the West not to go along with the plan at all, says Público:

“It is understandable that China wants to present itself as an angel of peace. In the tug of war between diplomacy and war, there are times when hypocrisy must be answered with hypocrisy. China accepting that Russia must respect Ukraine's territorial integrity would be a great victory for Ukraine and its allies. And even if the intention remained only on paper, it could have the advantage of provoking a rift between Moscow and Beijing.” (ES) /

Beijing could force a withdrawal also sees this at least as an opportunity:

“Although the plan has many flaws, Russia can't simply reject it out of hand because its dependence on China is enormous. There could even be an immediate ceasefire if Xi Jinping were to propose it, forcing Moscow to back down. The fact that China has put a proposal on the table at all, regardless of its content, is very positive. Let us hope that the reactions will be commensurate to the opportunity presented.”

Pavlo Klimkin (UA) /

Trying out for the political top league

Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin sees China's plan as an attempt to gain more clout in international politics. He writes on Facebook:

“The Chinese peace plan is a very cautious text which contains many traps. It is not about the content - the Chinese know very well that it is unacceptable to us, the West and Russia. This plan is a bid to become a player that is ready and willing to play in the top league globally. And as such it is one that must be taken seriously.”

Adevărul (RO) /

China wants to show its neighbours how strong it is

Social anthropologist and former Romanian parliamentarian Gabriel Hora Nasra argues in Adevărul that Beijing is sending a message to Central and South Asia with its plan:

“Before 2022, the Chinese would have liked to import more oil, gas and metals from Central Asia, but at that time they had to be pragmatic and take Russian interests and the Soviet legacy of the Central Asian countries into account. Today, by contrast, China has free rein to approach these republics in view of Russia's dependence on China. ... Therefore, although the twelve points for peace are empty words in the eyes of the West, they are an excellent document for China's non-alignment and for moving the countries of Central Asia to group around China.”