BEIJING (AP) — China will send a special envoy to Ukraine and Russia starting next week in an effort to help reach a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, its Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Li Hui, who is China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs and a former ambassador to Moscow, will also visit Poland, France and Germany, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
China says it remains neutral on Russia’s war in Ukraine but has declared it has an “unlimited” relationship with Moscow and blames the United States and NATO for sparking the conflict. Beijing has presented a peace plan for Ukraine that has been largely rejected by the country’s supporters, who say a resolution can only come when Russia ceases its attacks and withdraws its troops from Ukrainian soil.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last month, setting the stage for the diplomatic push.
“The Chinese representative’s visit to relevant countries expresses China’s commitment to promoting peace and negotiations,” Wang told a daily briefing on Friday.
China wants to avoid an “escalation of the situation,” Wang said.
Li’s visits will begin next week, but his detailed schedule has not been released.
Beijing has previously avoided getting involved in conflicts between other countries, but appears to be trying to assert itself as a global diplomatic force after hosting talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March that led them to restore diplomatic ties after a seven-year hiatus.
China has friendly relations with Moscow as well as economic clout as the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas after the United States and its allies halted most purchases.
Beijing, which sees Moscow as a diplomatic partner in opposing US domination of global affairs, has refused to criticize the invasion and used its status as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to deflect diplomatic attacks. against Russia.
Wang also confirmed that the ruling Communist Party’s top diplomat Wang Yi and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan held talks on Wednesday and Thursday in Vienna, Austria. Wang said the two sides had “sincere, in-depth, substantive and constructive discussions” on stabilizing and improving bilateral relations.
Relations between China and the United States are at a record low and took a nosedive in February after the United States shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had flown across Canada and the United States. The incident led to the postponement of a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing, which has not yet been rescheduled.