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China denies Zelenskyy's claim that Beijing is trying to disrupt Ukraine's peace summit

China denies Zelenskyy's claim that Beijing is trying to disrupt Ukraine's peace summit
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China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning attends a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing on January 15, 2024.

Pedro Pardo | Afp | Getty Images

China has denied allegations by Ukraine’s president that Beijing is pressuring other countries not to attend an upcoming Ukraine peace summit, with the foreign ministry claiming that Beijing’s position on the matter remains “fair and just.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky had levied the charge during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday, claiming Russia was using Beijing’s influence in Asia to disrupt the peace talks in June.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Mao Ning, denied those charges on Monday, saying that “hegemonism and power politics are not China’s diplomatic style.”

“There is no such thing as China pressuring other countries,” she said, adding that Beijing’s position on the talks is “open and transparent.” 

The peace talks, scheduled to take place in Switzerland on June 15-16, will focus on the over two-year Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022. 

According to Zelenskyy, the summit will cover topics including Ukraine’s peace plan, nuclear security, food security, and the return of abducted Ukrainian children from Russia. More than one hundred countries and international organizations are set to attend, the Ukrainian leader said.

China has repeatedly called for a cease-fire and dialogue concerning the war in Ukraine, and said it will help facilitate peace talks.

However, Mao reiterated that Beijing would likely skip the Swiss talks as they do not meet three important conditions: recognition from Russia and Ukraine, equal participation of all parties, as well as fair talks of all peace plans. 

“The meeting does not yet seem to meet these three elements and that is exactly why China would not be able to take part in the meeting,” she added.

Russia has not been invited to the summit.

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Mao said China is in close communication with Ukraine and Switzerland, and emphasized that Beijing has “attached great importance” to the summit from the start.

Zelenskyy’s accusations of Chinese interference came as he discussed China’s role in the war. He went as far as calling China an “instrument” of Russia and President Vladimir Putin, according to a translation of his remarks. 

Beijing is seen as a growing ally of Moscow, with both countries touting a “no-limits” friendship since February 2022 as they seek to counter U.S. global influence.

Putin recently met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, agreeing to further bolster trade in the face of Western pressure and sanctions aimed at curbing its alleged support of Russia’s war efforts.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy warned that China’s continued support for Russia threatens to prolong the war and would have further negative consequences for the world.

He also urged leaders from Asia to commit to attending the peace summit in Switzerland and for Asia to support an end to the conflict. 

Zelenskyy pointed out that Ukraine has never demanded military support from Asian countries but emphasized that his country still needs political and humanitarian support.

While many Asian countries have called for ending hostilities in Ukraine, the region’s stance on the war remains mixed, with nations like China, India, and Pakistan refraining from condemnation of Russia’s invasion. 

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