China's special envoy arrived in Ukraine and discussed Russia's invasion with Kuleba

China's special envoy arrived in Ukraine and discussed Russia's invasion with Kuleba
/ Wiki Commons
By Dominic Culverwell in London May 18, 2023

China’s special representative visited Ukraine on May 16-17, following the diplomatic discussions between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a press statement on May 17.

China has taken a more active role in the Russia-Ukraine war this year, eager to participate in the peace negotiation process, and has sent a special envoy on a European tour. Arriving in Kyiv, Li Hui, the special representative of the Chinese government, discussed the peace process and ways to counter Russian aggression with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Beijing put forward a 12-point peace plan in February, which was criticised for omitting any mention of Russian troops withdrawing from Ukrainian territory, something Kyiv stressed in its own peace formula. During the meeting with Li, Kuleba emphasised Ukraine’s rejection of any peace proposal that would “involve the loss of its territories or the freezing of the conflict”.

Kuleba elaborated on Ukraine's approach to establishing a stable and fair peace based on respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, noting the importance of China’s participation in implementing Zelenskiy’s peace plan. He also highlighted the significance of Beijing in guaranteeing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, ensuring nuclear safety and other vital international endeavours.

Both parties agreed to increase dialogue on key issues of the bilateral and international agenda. Li Hui, the former ambassador to Russia, will also visit Russia, Poland, France and Germany to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Following the phone call with Zelenskiy on April 26, President Xi Jinping stated that China wants to “facilitate the peace process and a ceasefire as soon as possible”, claiming Beijing won’t observe the war quietly and won’t “fuel the fire”. He emphasised that China also won’t “take advantage of the crisis to profit.”

Timothy Ash, senior sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, believes that Beijing is only pushing for peace to ensure Putin isn’t ousted from power and replaced by a pro-Western government.

“Xi would love to push a peace deal on Putin and Ukraine, but its only real interest here is saving Putin; it’s not really interested in viewing all this through any Ukrainian prism,” Ash wrote in March.

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