An introduction to the Chinese peace proposal: what it entails. It would definitely be a beginning and no one else has anything to offer, especially that “Paragon of Peace in Europe”, the EU, which does nothing but provide Ukraine with more weapons.
Alberto Bradanini is a former Italian diplomat. Among many positions, he was Ambassador of Italy to Tehran (2008-2012) and to Beijing (2013-2015). He is currently President of the Research Center on Contemporary China
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the West has showed an irresponsible vacuum of any peace proposal, since the leading nation that planned the conflict with such patience and so much invested has no interest in ending it, being the one that benefits the most: six months after its defeat in Afghanistan the US-led NATO has come back to life, Europe is increasingly becoming an American colony, US arms manufacturers fill their already full pockets even more, US LNG sellers quintuple their revenues by selling to Europe, Russia is bleeding (or so the propaganda claims) and sooner or later China will also suffer, and so on. In the meantime, the risk of escalation, even nuclear, is growing, which the imprudent Western rulers continue to ignore.
In this manipulated and worrying context, the Chinese peace plan – which the head of Beijing’s diplomacy, Wang Yi, presented on February 24, 2023, in Moscow, meeting with Foreign Minister S. Lavrov and Russian President, V. Putin – has the merit of offering a ground for reflection, that is coming from a permanent member of the UN Security Council.1
The Chinese proposal, which among predictable aspects recommends the end of US sanctions (a signal that might suggest it was agreed with V. Putin), should also be welcomed by the Europeans if they weren’t lost in a spiral of subjection towards the Atlantic power, and aware of what is at stake. It is presumable that Wang Yi had also probed the governments of Germany, France and Italy in his tour some days before. We can also guess he received no hints from them, since all three had to report to their superiors.
Basically, we could read in the Chinese proposal something that has proved feasible in other equally harsh moments and contexts, namely the Korean solution. This is a path that we can also describe having Chinese characteristics, abstract in form but effective in substance. Once the two sides agreed to cease hostilities, negotiations would begin immediately. These could last weeks or months, and could lead to a formal peace agreement, a mutually satisfactory understanding, but they could also last for years, just as in the case of Korea. Meanwhile, each side would keep the land it occupies at the time of the ceasefire: some would say this is unacceptable, but history shows that wars most of the times end with a different situation from the one that existed at the beginning.
Even in that case not everything would be resolved, of course, and not immediately. However, the weapons would become silent, There would be no more deaths and destruction, and we would begin to talk about reconstruction and the return of people to their homes.
In the future, if political conditions permit, progress can be made, possibly but not necessarily, towards a real peace settlement. Again, the Korea model, not perfect, not definitive, but still an agreement.
Behind this proposal, it goes without saying, the Chinese hide strategic interests. As a Developmental State, all conflicts cause systemic damage to China, because they affect trade, which is critical to China’s economy. In the current historical phase, China is a nation of peace, while the United States is a nation of war (since it has existed – as a former US president, Jimmy Carter recalled2 – the US has been at peace for only 16 years of its 250 years or so, as a nation. A second interest for China would be to emerge as a peacemaking power, unlike the United States of America, the bearer of conflicts. If European countries were sovereign nations, they would perhaps find the courage to reflect and agree to be involved, not ignoring the proposal, but deepening it and advancing it. Unfortunately, they will likely remain silent, waiting to receive orders from their team captain. Meanwhile, people will continue to die in Ukraine.
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