Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
China’s new man in Brussels has admitted his country faces a “dilemma” over Russia’s genocidal invasion of Ukraine.
Ambassador Fu Cong, as the new head of Mission of the Chinese Mission to the European Union is arguably Beijing’s most powerful figure in Europe.
He gave a keynote speech to a group of businessmen and women in Brussels but did not shy away from speaking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The ambassador admitted China faces a dilemma because “we enjoy good relations with both Russia and Ukraine.”
He called for an “immediate” end to hostilities, saying a ceasefire was the only way to resolve the war.
His comments came just ahead of a visit to Russia this week by China’s President Xi Jinping who is in Moscow for a two-day visit and talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is Xi’s first visit to Russia since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in 2022 – he’s due to have lunch with Putin later, and hold formal talks on Tuesday.
Ukraine is expected to be a key point of discussion during Xi’s three-day visit, which will be closely watched for any potential impact on Russia’s war against Ukraine. The trip is taking place days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin for alleged crimes against humanity, which has branded Putin as an international pariah.
Beijing has described it as a trip “for friendship and peace”, with Russia saying the leaders will discuss a “comprehensive partnership and strategic co-operation.”
But it is less than clear why the Chinese President is actively courting association with a man who has an international arrest warrant against him for kidnapping and illegally expatriating 16 000 children from Ukraine. President Xi risks seriously tarnishing both his own personal credibility and China’s global reputation by flirting with an internationally despised war criminal.
Last month Beijing offered proposals to end the war in Ukraine, to which the West has given a lukewarm reception.
In his speech last week, Ambassador Fu Cong told his Belgian audience that China was ready “to help facilitate peace” in Ukraine.
In an event organised by the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) he told the assembled business representatives it was vital though for each side “to respect each other’s territorial integrity and security concerns.”
He said, “I understand there are high emotions on both sides but people need to have cool heads right now. The voice of reason must prevail.”
On arrival in Moscow on Monday, Xi said, “I am confident the visit will be fruitful and give new momentum to the healthy and stable development of Chinese-Russian relations”
He also reportedly described the two countries as “reliable partners”.
Officially Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia is to promote bilateral ties between two neighbours – “good neighbours”, as described by Xi himself when he landed in Moscow.
At a press conference, convened as Xi Jinping was making his way to Russia, Wang was asked about reports that Chinese ammunition had been used by Russia in Ukraine.
China has denied sending weapons or ammunition to Russia, but this claim flies in contradiction with media reports to the contrary. What is certainly clear is that any proof of Chinese arms shipments to support Russia’s war effort will definitely provoke a punitive response from the free world.
Less than a month ago China published a 12-point peace plan in an attempt to resolve the war in Ukraine, calling for peace talks and respect for national sovereignty.
But the document does not require Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, and it also condemns the usage of “unilateral sanctions”, in what is seen as a veiled criticism of Ukraine’s allies in the West. The document is unlikely to gain any traction with those who want to see Russia punished for its illegal imperialist behaviour. Ukraine has made it clear that Russia must withdraw from the territories that it has aggressively invaded and illegally occupied.