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Settlement without plan
Ambassador Tran Duc Mau 19:59, 2023/02/27
It is purely the listing of China's guidelines for ending the war in Ukraine.

Being formulated in the 12-point paper, China's "Political Settlement of the Ukraine Conflict" had been released last Friday. It was anticipated some days ago. Russia welcomed it. Ucraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky saw some positive elements in it. For US President Joe Biden, it was "not rational" and he noted that it would only benefit Russia. Both EU and NATO expressed skepticism towards China's newest diplomatic move. Everyone can learn from those reactions that China's diplomatic push couldn't lead to a quick end to the war in Ukraine.

 A Ukrainian man stands in the rubble in Zhytomyr following a Russian missile strike. Photo: AFP/VNA 

There are two reasons which clearly limit, and even undermine the feasibility of China's diplomatic idea.

The first one is China called it a "political settlement of the Ukraine conflict" but it is only a position paper, not more and not less. It contained what China considered as main principles for a political solution to the war in Ucraine, without any plan and roadmap with concrete measures to be done and steps to be taken by Ucraine and Russia, by EU and NATO as well as by the outside world which could lead to peaceful political settlements for ending the war and dealing with all post-war consequences. In fact, it was not a classicly defined proposal aiming at reaching peaceful and political solutions to classicly defined wars. It is purely the listing of China's guidelines for ending the war in Ukraine.

The second reason is the US, EU, and NATO weren't happy and satisfied with the contents of China's initiative. For them, it looks like a declaration of principles rather than a practical solution. It calls to resume peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and to reduce strategic risks associated with nuclear weapons, but it includes criticism of unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the UN Security Council. Everyone could easily understand that it implies China's criticism of the EU, NATO, the US and their allies. And China's focus on sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as on legitimate security interests has been considered by the US, EU and NATO as more beneficial to Russia than to Ukraine.

Anyway, it was very positive and important that China now started to actively engage in process of finding ways and means to quickly end the war in Ukraine. It was apparent that China from the beginning was aware of the limitation of the feasibility of its initiative. For China at this moment, it was first of all about the launch of the diplomatic push rather than making sure that the diplomatic initiative could be accepted and implemented by Ukraine, the EU, NATO, and the US.

Even being only a position paper, its rollout was good for China. It demonstrated that China has started to set out for becoming one mediator in the Ukraine war. Therefore it was the first but surely not the last move if China.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Hanoi Times.


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