China Refuses to “Choose a Side,” Expresses Concern About Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis: After Russian President Vladimir Putin appealed to China for military assistance in Ukraine, Chinese United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that while the country is concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the Chinese Communist Party also believes that countries should not be pressured to “choose a side” in the conflict.
“The development of the situation in Ukraine to the present stage has triggered broad international concerns, and it is also something China does not want to see. On Ukraine, China has always maintained that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected,” Zhang told UN General Assembly member countries.
Zhang also warned that developing countries could be hurt by being drawn into the issue – and that forcing smaller economies, which make up most of the world, into the conflict will force them to “suffer the consequences of geopolitical conflicts and major power rivalry.”
Relevant countries should not adopt a simplistic approach of either friend or foe, black or white, and should not force any country to pick a side,” he said, adding that China intends to play a “constructive role” in facilitating peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
The speech was delivered as the General Assembly heard speeches from member country representatives about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, which has seen more than 3 million leave the country and hundreds of thousands still trapped in major urban areas almost entirely destroyed Russian missiles.
China Opposes Russia G20 Barring
While China has not offered Russian President Vladimir Putin the military assistance he requested – likely over concerns that Western sanctions levied against China would have a disastrous effect on its manufacturing economy – the country is advocating that Russia remain a member of the G20.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Moscow should be permitted to attend the next G20 summit. The comments were made during a news conference, and reaffirmed China’s support for Russia as an “important member” of the G20.
“No member has the right to remove another country as a member. The G20 should implement real multilateralism, strengthen unity and cooperation,” Wang said.
The G20, or Group of Twenty, is an intergovernmental forum that consists of 19 countries and the European Union. The purpose of the group is to facilitate discussions and negotiations among the world’s biggest economies to tackle global issues like climate change, sustainable development, and global financial issues. Maintaining Russia as a member of the organization would likely cause problems for the forum, as Western nations represented by the European Union, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States, have placed severe economic sanctions on Russia in recent weeks.
However, the Russian ambassador to Indonesia, Lyudmila Vorobieva, told Reuters that Vladimir Putin still intends to attend the next G20 summit due to take place in Indonesia in November.
“It will depend on many, many things, including the COVID situation, which is getting better. So far, his intention is… he wants to,” Vorobieva said during a press conference. “Of course, expulsion of Russia from this kind of forum will not help these economic problems to be resolved. On the contrary, without Russia it would be difficult to do so.
While the Kremlin may not have the military support it needs from China, it absolutely has diplomatic support – and for the sake of avoidance of conflict with China, it might just be enough to keep Russia in the G20 for now.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.