前兩天看到中國可能軍援俄國的消息，我還在擔心習大大是不是有了老人癡呆的早期症狀。剛剛看到：「中國『烏克蘭和平計劃』出爐」的消息；再度證實了我一向認為中國領袖老奸巨滑的判斷。用美國人的俗話說：Chinese Leader plays the Washington politicians like a yo-yo. – 中國領袖把美國政客玩弄於股掌之上。
China calls for Russia-Ukraine cease-fire, peace talks
BEIJING (AP) — China called for a cease-fire between Ukraine and Moscow and the opening of peace talks in a 12-point proposal to end the fighting that started one year ago.
Beijing claims to have a neutral stance in the war, but China has also said it has a “no limits friendship” with Russia and has refused to criticize its invasion of Ukraine, or even refer to it as an invasion. It has accused the West of provoking the conflict and “fanning the flames” by providing Ukraine with defensive arms.
The U.S. has also said China may be preparing to provide Russia with military aid, something Beijing says lacks evidence. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin has called the allegation “nothing more than slander and smears.”
There are doubts over whether China can be seen as an honest broker.
China and Russia have increasingly aligned their foreign policies to oppose the U.S.-led liberal international order. Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed the strength of their bilateral ties when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week. (王毅現任中共中央政治局委員、中央外事工作委員會辦公室主任，國務委員、國務院黨組成員；中國現任外長為秦剛。)
State Department spokesman Ned Price had said earlier Thursday that the U.S. would reserve judgment on the proposal but that China’s allegiance with Russia meant it was not a neutral mediator. “We would like to see nothing more than a just and durable peace ... but we are skeptical that reports of a proposal like this will be a constructive path forward,” he said.
Before the document, titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” was released, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had called it an important first step to have China involved.
“I think that, in general, the fact that China started talking about peace in Ukraine, I think that it is not bad,” he said at a news conference Thursday with Spain’s prime minister.
It mainly reiterated long-held Chinese positions, including that all countries’ “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” be guaranteed.
“Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way out to resolve the Ukraine crisis,” the proposal said. It offered no details on what form talks should take, any preconditions or which countries should be involved, but said “China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in this regard.”
It also called for an end to “Cold War mentality” — China’s standard term for what it regards as U.S. hegemony, and maintenance of alliances such as NATO.
“The security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs,” the proposal said. “The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and addressed properly.”
China abstained Thursday when the U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces. It is one of 16 countries that either voted against or abstained on almost all of five previous U.N. resolutions on Ukraine.
The resolution, drafted by Ukraine in consultation with its allies, passed 141-7 with 32 abstentions, sending a strong message on the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion that appears to leave Russia more isolated than ever.
China has said that the present conflict is “not something it wishes to see,” and has repeatedly said any use of nuclear weapons would be completely unacceptable, in an implied repudiation of Putin’s statement that Russia would use “all available means” to protect its territory.
“Conflict and war benefit no one,” the proposal said.
“All parties should maintain rationality and restraint ... support Russia and Ukraine to meet each other, resume direct dialogue as soon as possible, gradually promote the de-escalation and relaxation of the situation, and finally reach a comprehensive ceasefire,” it said.
Reiterating China’s position, it said, “Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought.”
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University, said China’s proposal was necessary, but not novel.
“China’s peace proposal does not change but combines its comprehensive positions on the crisis and war in Ukraine,” Shi said.
“China feels it necessary to repeat its self-perceived neutrality at this juncture, to save some international inference by not only criticizing NATO but also distinguishing itself from Russia’s behavior,” Shi said.
China’s position “always falls far short of Russia’s preference but still meets with criticism from the West and its allies,” Shi said.
While neither side is likely to agree to China playing a mediating role, or even pay much heed to the Chinese proposal, Beijing needed to clarify its stance, he said.
The proposal comes as U.S.-China relations have hit a historic low over Taiwan, disputes over trade and technology, human rights and China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN Thursday that his first reaction to the proposal was that “it could stop at point one, which is: Respect the sovereignty of all nations.”
The State Department’s Price said that the U.S. hopes “all countries that have a relationship with Russia unlike the one that we have will use that leverage, will use that influence to push Russia meaningfully and usefully to end this brutal war of aggression. (China) is in a position to do that in ways that we just aren’t.”
Most recently, the sides tangled over the U.S. shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon that had floated over the continental United States. China responded furiously to the action, saying it was merely an airship for meteorological research and accused the U.S. of “indiscriminate use of force.”
Sullivan said that China had “not taken off the table the possibility of providing military assistance to Ukraine, although we haven’t seen them do it yet.”
Sullivan also noted China’s abstaining in the U.N. vote and that Wang Yi visited other European nations during his recent visit to the continent, “trying to sell the idea that China’s not all-in with Russia.”
“I cannot predict the future,” he told CNN. “What I can tell you is that the United States is not going to dictate to Ukraine how this war ends.”
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故作矜持 – 討價還價的前奏曲
US joins EU in rejecting Beijing's peace proposal, sanctions more Chinese firms
l US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says plan should have ended after first point: ‘respecting the sovereignty of all countries’
l US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tells UN Security Council not to be ‘fooled by calls for a temporary or unconditional ceasefire’
Robert Delaney Orange Wang in Washington and Khushboo Razdan in New York, 02/25/23
The US-China confrontation over Russia's war on Ukraine ratcheted up on several fronts on Friday, the one-year anniversary of the invasion's start, as Washington and its allies largely rejected a peace plan by Beijing and the US announced new sanctions on Chinese companies it charged were helping to fuel the conflict.
The debate over China's peace proposal also carried over to a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed the 12-point peace proposal China released earlier on Friday, telling CNN that Beijing should have ended it after the first point, which calls for "respecting the sovereignty of all countries".
Among its other elements, the plan calls for a ceasefire, which would freeze Russian troops in place on Ukrainian territory, and for an immediate end to all sanctions not endorsed by the UN Security Council, where Russia holds veto power.
Sullivan's rebuff was in line with that of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who implied that Beijing's proposal had not changed their view that China had taken Russia's side.
Eurasia Group analysts Clayton Allen and Anna Ashton said that China's proposal was biased towards Moscow - even if it was less hostile to Washington and its allies compared to the comments that Beijing's top diplomat Wang Yi had for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Germany last week.
"Although several of the 12 points revealed Chinese concerns over actions primarily associated with Russia, it continued to echo Russia's justifications for invasion and can largely be framed by Russia as supporting Moscow's positions," Allen and Ashton said in a research note.
"China's approach suggests that they are walking a diplomatic tightrope of strengthening ties to Russia - a key geostrategic ally and counterbalance to the West - while avoiding a position that is seen as openly hostile to Western aims," they added.
Asked whether US President Joe Biden's administration saw China's proposal as a "gimmick", National Security Council spokesman John Kirby echoed Sullivan's comment that the document should have stopped after the call to respect sovereignty. He declined to characterise it further.
In New York, in the UN Security Council on Friday, the US remained committed to a Ukrainian victory, while China put forward its plan.
Describing long-term diplomatic negotiations as the "only right way" to resolve the crisis, China's representative, Dai Bing, urged the international community to create platforms for Russia and Ukraine to hold talks without any preconditions.
"Bringing parties to the conflict back to the negotiating table is not going to be easy, but it is the first step toward a political solution", Dai, charge d'affaires at the Chinese Permanent Mission to the UN, said.
Blinken, though, warned that it was critical to ensure that Russia was not allowed to utilise any temporary "unconditional" ceasefire in fighting to "rest, rearm and relaunch".
"Council members should not be fooled by calls for a temporary or unconditional ceasefire," Blinken said.
"Russia will use any pause in fighting to consolidate control over the territories illegally seized and replenish its forces for further attacks," he added.
Voicing China's strong opposition to unilateral sanctions, Dai said that developing countries were paying a high price due to the war's impact on global supply chains, exacerbating food, energy and financial crises: "We hope that the relevant parties take responsible actions and stop abusing unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction".
There was more unity among the Group of 7 industrialised nations, which also issued a strong condemnation of Russia's war on Friday.
Traditionally allied with Washington, the G7 pledged "unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes" and called on Russia to "completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from the entire internationally recognised territory of Ukraine".
In an apparent reference to China, Iran, North Korea and other countries that Washington accuses of assisting Russia economically or militarily, the group called on "third-countries or other international actors who seek to evade or undermine our measures to cease providing material support to Russia's war, or face severe costs.
"To deter this activity around the world, we are taking actions against third-country actors materially supporting Russia's war in Ukraine," the statement added.
Washington announced such deterrence earlier on Friday.
Building on sanctions announced last year on Chinese companies suspected of helping Russia, the US Commerce Department added five Chinese firms to its entity list: AOOK Technology Ltd; Beijing Ti-Tech Science and Technology Development Co; Beijing Yunze Technology Co; China HEAD Aerospace Technology Co; and Spacety Co.
The list also added two subsidiaries of China HEAD Aerospace Technology in France and the Netherlands, and an affiliate of Spacety in Luxembourg.
The department said that the additions were based on information that "these companies significantly contribute to Russia's military and/or defence industrial base and are involved in activities contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests".
The action, which also sanctioned nearly 80 Russian companies involved in the country's "defence-industrial sector and war effort", follows several warnings by Washington that Beijing would suffer "consequences" were it to supply weapons to Moscow.
Blinken has contended in a series of interviews this week that China is "strongly" considering providing lethal assistance to Russia. Beijing rejected the claim, accusing Washington of "spreading false information".
A Pentagon spokesperson acknowledged on Wednesday that the US has not yet seen China giving weapons or other lethal aid to Russia, but that Beijing had not yet taken that aid off the table.
Concerning the new sanctions, Alan Estevez, under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said on Friday that "as our export controls continue to bite, Putin and his cronies will become more desperate in seeking the means to sustain this illegal war".
"Today's package of rules shows that our commitment - and that of our allies - is not wavering, and that we will meet whatever Russia, Belarus, Iran, private firms such as those from China or anyone globally who seeks to support them can muster, with strong, coordinated action."
The additions to the trade blacklist were part of new, sweeping cross-department sanctions the US announced on Friday in its latest response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In a separate expression of US support for Kyiv, Blinken announced US$10 billion in "energy assistance to support Ukrainians suffering from Russia's attacks" and monies to keep government functions running.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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