China’s president runs for mediator after speaking with Zelensky

Jesus Centeno |


Especially with Europe, some analysts point out, given that the call takes place after the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Frenchman, Emmanuel Macron, or the Spanish, Pedro Sánchez, urged the Chinese leader to pick up the phone.

And it also comes days after the Chinese ambassador in Paris, Lu Shaye, questioned Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula by creating a fire that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had to extinguish this week.

Many voices in Europe have called for Beijing, given its good relations with Moscow, to use that leverage to stop the conflict, while Ukraine has been waiting for this talk for more than a year, particularly since Xi’s March visit to Russia, where he presented Vladimir Putin his peace plan.

Zelensky believes there is a chance to restore peace and Russia says it will not change its plans

This goes through opposing sanctions against Moscow and respecting its “legitimate security concerns”, while also preserving “the territorial integrity of countries”, including Ukraine, an ambivalent position that has led some to criticize China for putting in the the same plane to the aggressor and the attacked.

“China wants to show Europeans that it can play a more constructive role on the issues that affect them most. The call also shows that Beijing is willing to maintain a delicate balance in terms of its relations with Russia, the European Union and the United States,” said academic Rorry Daniels, from the Institute for Asia Policy, told the South China Morning Post.

Although China seeks to manage the expectations it has created as a mediator, the fact that it is stepping up with Xi at its helm suggests that Beijing is confident that it can succeed and that it will serve as a sign of its ambition to become a global power.

“China, as a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations and as a responsible great power, wishes to promote a political solution,” comments the Chinese official daily Global Times today.

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Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky during his conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. EFEE/EPA/Presidential Press Service

“Even the White House welcomed the call. This accentuates the special value of China’s efforts in a situation as complex and changing as this one,” the outlet added.

New ambassador to Ukraine

The call between the two leaders, in which Xi again defended a peaceful solution as the “only way out”, resulted in the almost immediate appointment of a new Ukrainian ambassador to China, while Beijing has appointed a mediator to hold talks “with all parties”.

The delicate assignment would have fallen to the former Chinese ambassador to Russia, Li Hui, according to Russian media and in the absence of official confirmation from China.

“The conversation between Xi and Zelensky involves above all opening a door, creating an atmosphere and acting as a guide. There are still many problems to be solved, such as the role that envoy is going to play,” expert Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

According to Cui, the Chinese envoy will serve as an outpost to help China itself “better understand the crisis and promote better solutions” with the aim that, in the long term, it can specify “specific measures” to unblock the war.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping. BLAZETRENDS/EPA/Vladimir Astapkovich/Kremlin Pool

Other analysts, such as Zhang Hong, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, point out that Beijing is “qualified” to intercede in Ukraine, although it is “much more difficult and complicated than when it mediated for Iran and Saudi Arabia to reach an agreement” because , he asserts, “they did have strategic autonomy and were independent in their decisions.”

“kyiv is very influenced by Washington, and it is too early to create very high expectations for an immediate solution to the crisis. It will take time, ”she indicates.

Meanwhile, Li Haidong, from the University of Foreign Affairs, points out that other countries have already tried to mediate in vain and that it is now the turn for Russia and Ukraine to look for someone “who acts from credibility, influence and sincerity.”

“China has spoken with Russia, with Germany, with France and with the European Union, or with more neutral countries like Brazil. This has created more mature conditions for the conversation between Xi and Zelensky, and shows that China is really prepared to mediate,” he concludes.

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