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Screens show results of voting by the UN General Assembly on a resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of regions of Ukraine during an emergency session in New York on Wednesday. Photo: EPA-EFE

Ukraine conflict: Chinese envoy to UN warns forcing nations to take sides is ‘dangerous’ cold war mentality

  • China’s deputy permanent representative Geng Shuang tells emergency session ‘bloc politics’ will not bring peace as China abstains from UN vote
  • Beijing’s embassy in Ukraine has told Chinese nationals to take emergency shelter and prepare supplies and has initiated new round of registration
Ukraine war
The Chinese envoy to the United Nations has warned during an emergency special session on Ukraine against an “irresponsible and dangerous” cold war mentality that “intimidates and forces” countries into taking sides, as most member states voted to reject the Russian referendum and annexation of four Ukrainian oblasts.

“The crisis in Ukraine shows once again that clinging to the cold war mentality and bloc politics, creating bloc confrontation and pursuing absolute security will not bring peace, but will only lead to conflicts, which serves no one’s interests,” said China’s deputy permanent representative Geng Shuang. China abstained from the vote alongside 34 other countries, including India, Pakistan and most African states.


China abstains from voting on UN condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian areas

China abstains from voting on UN condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian areas

The resolution called on countries not to recognise the four Ukrainian regions occupied by Russia – Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – following last month’s referendums, and demanded that Moscow reverse course on its “attempted illegal annexation”.

The five countries of Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria voted against.

“At a time when the world needs unity and cooperation to overcome difficulties, it is irresponsible and dangerous to focus on ideological differences, intimidate and force other countries to take sides, create isolation and exert pressure, and engage in decoupling and chain-cutting,” Geng told the special session.

In a seeming reference to Europe’s energy crisis as Russian gas is curtailed, he said Beijing also opposed measures increasing “division and confrontation”.

“All-out and indiscriminate sanctions will … only disrupt the stability of global supply and industrial chains, amplify the spillover effects of the crisis and affect the normal life of the people around the world,” the envoy said, adding that these “spillover effects” on other countries, particularly developing countries, should be minimised.

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Beijing also urged restraint to prevent “irreparable humanitarian disaster” caused by a potential nuclear catastrophe amid increased fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the southeastern city, Enerhodar, where the largest nuclear power plant in Europe is based.
“The safety and security of nuclear facilities cannot be compromised, not even by the smallest margin,” Geng said, reiterating Beijing’s consistent “no first use” nuclear policy by any side. “However daunting the difficulties and challenges are, the door to political settlement shall not be closed, diplomatic negotiations shall not be stalled and efforts to stop hostilities and promote peace talks shall not be slackened.”

According to Andrew Korybko, a political analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council think tank, Beijing’s comments and abstention from the vote are consistent with its usual response to international conflicts and disputes.


Ukrainians sing national anthem, folk songs as they shelter from Russian missiles

Ukrainians sing national anthem, folk songs as they shelter from Russian missiles

“It can be argued that the success of the US-led campaign to isolate and weaken Russia, in Beijing’s perspective, reflects that similar efforts may be used upon China in an attempt to replicate the same outcome,” said Korybko, adding that Beijing would probably not distance itself from Moscow unless it employed nuclear weapons, which was “still unlikely”.

“China will likely maintain its consistent policy arguing against the first use of nuclear weapons by any side, but in the current context it’s likely for Beijing to draw attention to any potentially forthcoming threats from Nato, since this aligns with its stance that the West is destabilising the world, including most recently in the Asia-Pacific via Aukus,” he said.

Ahead of the invasion, China and Russia said their relationship had “no limits”, to which Chinese ambassador to the US Qin Gang later clarified that Beijing was not interested in a confrontation and that the two were “not an alliance”.

Belarus edges closer to joining Ukraine war – could it turn tide for Putin?

Korybko said: “Unlike Nato, it’s not a mutual defence alliance, but a strategic coordination to accelerate the global systemic transition to multipolarity, so China won’t be militarily involved if a major war between Russia and Nato breaks out”. He added that the Beijing-Moscow relationship was “misportrayed by many”.

In Ukraine, Beijing’s embassy has issued consecutive warnings for Chinese nationals to take emergency shelter and prepare emergency supplies and it has initiated a new round of registration for Chinese. The measures follow Russian strikes on multiple Ukrainian cities in retaliation to an explosion on a key bridge linking southern Russia to annexed Crimea on Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukrainian special services of being behind the attack, which Kyiv has denied, but Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky joked about a “cloudy” day in the peninsula in an apparent reference to smoke from the deadly blast.