China denies fuelling Russia-Ukraine war tensions, says it supports peace

Comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia and China of attempting to undermine Swiss peace summit.

China's foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning attends a press conference
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning [Tingshu Wang/Reuters]

China has said it believes “all efforts” should be recognised in supporting peace measures around the Russia-Ukraine war, rejecting accusations from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that it was trying with Russia to undermine this month’s planned peace summit in Switzerland.

China has never “fanned fire or fuelled the flames”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning said on Monday after she was asked about the peace summit that is scheduled to take place on June 15-16.

Mao said China’s position on the peace conference was “open and transparent”.

“We believe that we can get the understanding and support of all parties,” she added.

More than 80 delegations have confirmed they will attend the summit in Burgenstock that Switzerland hopes will lay the groundwork for a peace process more than four years after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking in Singapore on Sunday, Zelenskyy said China and Russia were putting pressure on other countries and their leaders not to attend the upcoming talks. He did not say which ones.

“Russia, using Chinese influence in the region, using Chinese diplomats also, does everything to disrupt the peace summit,” he said at a news conference at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a closely-watched security forum.

China maintains it is neutral in the war, although it has deepened ties with Moscow since the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing last month where he enjoyed a ceremonial welcome and sipped tea with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Its trade with Russia has grown, easing the economic impact of Western-led sanctions. US, Ukrainian and other intelligence agencies say there is evidence that Chinese parts are winding up in Russian weaponry, even if China is not directly arming its neighbour.

The Swiss had been hoping China would attend the peace conference, but Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made clear last week that Beijing would not participate.

Beijing has been calling for a peace conference with “equal participation” of all sides, including Russia, which has not been invited.

Ukraine’s peace plan calls for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, the restoration of its 1991 post-Soviet borders and bringing Russia to account for its actions.

China has also released a peace plan that Putin last month said showed Beijing understood the conflict’s “root causes” and “global geopolitical meaning”. The 12-point plan got a lukewarm reception when it was first released a year after the Russian invasion, with analysts noting a lack of concrete proposals.

“There is still a clear gap between the arrangements for the meeting and the demands of the Chinese side, as well as the general expectations of the international community,” Mao said. “This makes it difficult for China to participate in the meeting.”

Source: News Agencies