Ukraine crisis: how Cold War mentality and power politics are hindering the quest for global peace
The Chinese proverb “replacing weapons with gifts of jade and silk” dates back more than 2,000 years while “beating swords into ploughshares” is recorded in the Book of Isaiah. Both convey the same message: peace and development are universal aspirations.
However, the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis has gripped the world. War on the European continent is the last thing peace lovers want to see. Europe has experienced two world wars and a Cold War that lasted more than four decades. If history is a mirror, we need to reflect on how to end the war and rebuild peace.
There are complex and special historical factors to the Ukraine issue but at its root is the Cold War mentality and power politics. Since the start of the crisis, China has made independent judgments, and dedicated efforts in its own way to defuse tensions and restore peace.
The top priority is to promote peace talks and prevent further humanitarian disasters. China values peace and opposes war, and has urged all parties involved to show political will in addressing each other’s security concerns – the crux of the matter – through negotiation.
President Xi Jinping spoke to President Vladimir Putin on the second day of the conflict, saying he would like to see peace talks between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible, and a positive response was received.
After that, Xi held video and phone conversations with leaders of the United States, France, Germany and Britain, underscoring the need to support dialogue between Russia and Ukraine.
To stop the humanitarian catastrophes in Ukraine, China has proposed a six-point initiative: ensuring humanitarian operations abide by the principles of neutrality and impartiality; giving full attention to displaced people in and from Ukraine; protecting civilians; providing for safe and smooth humanitarian aid activities; ensuring the safety of foreign nationals in Ukraine; and, supporting the UN’s coordinating role in channelling humanitarian aid.
China has walked the talk. Humanitarian supplies from China have arrived in Ukraine.
The way forward must be built on common security rather than antagonism. Some scholars warned of a Ukraine crisis years ago, and many experts have recently argued again that the US and Nato are to blame.
Two decades into the 21st century, when peace and development are supposed to be the mainstay, a military spectre from the Cold War continues to loom large, pushing for “absolute security”, which has ultimately triggered “absolute insecurity”.
Yet, China continues to advocate the vision of a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. As Xi said, to achieve lasting security, major countries need to respect each other, abandon the Cold War mentality and confrontation, and build a balanced, effective and lasting global and regional security architecture.
This is a global trend. The world is not the same as it was decades ago. Today, it is unrealistic for one country, or even a few, to seek supremacy, and all countries’ legitimate security concerns deserve respect.
Our safety must not be at the expense of others’. It is crucial that we find the greatest common ground that is in everyone’s security interests. A harmonious and stable international and regional security structure requires global partnership, and China has been playing a constructive role in this.
The world must do away with unilateral sanctions and maintain stable development. Leaders are already preoccupied with the Covid-19 fallout and economic revival. When finding a way out of the Ukraine crisis, the international community must not overlook the need for global stability, or the livelihoods and lives of the billions of people in the world.
Imposing sanctions is like twisting a knife in a wound. It will only inflame tensions, and hurt people’s interests. If sanctions are scaled up, it will wreak havoc on the global economy, including trade, finance, energy, food, industry, and supply chains.
The whole world, developing nations in particular, will bear the brunt. This is neither fair nor legal for countries and peoples who are not parties to the conflict.
China believes sanctions are never effective solutions, and opposes unilateral sanctions with no basis in international law. Globalisation must not be weaponised. The more complicated the situation, the more necessary it is to stay calm and rational, and create space to restore peace and development.
Amid the Ukraine crisis, the international community is clear-eyed about who is putting out fires and who is fanning the flames.
The US, instead of honouring its international obligations, has been laying a trap to shift the blame and coerce others into picking sides on sanctions, making a political solution harder and casting a shadow over world peace and stability, and people’s well-being. This is not how a global power should act.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible global power, China has been working for the settlement of global and regional security issues in its own way. While some countries were making the Ukraine situation worse, Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted a meeting in China with his counterparts from Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries to help Afghanistan move towards peaceful and stable development.
By the same token, China endorses fairness and justice in the Ukraine crisis. It shares the same goal as most members of the global family and its efforts have been widely commended. Time will continue to prove that China holds a responsible position that can stand the test of history.