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INTERNATIONAL > Ukraine Crisis

Editorial: China has a responsibility to stop Russian aggression

  • March 16, 2022
  • , Nikkei Asia , 3:50 p.m.
  • English Press
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At a press conference following the close of the National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang discussed China’s efforts to broker peace in Ukraine but avoided condemning Russia. He also opposed sanctions.


But while China was hosting the Beijing Winter Paralympics, a massive loss of life continued at the hands of Russian brutality. The fact that host-nation China in effect turned a blind eye is an outrage to humanity.


Both China and Russia are co-sponsors of a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for an “Olympic Truce,” which urged a cessation of all wars for nearly two months during the Olympics and Paralympics.


Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 4, the opening day of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and then launched his invasion after the Games closed. China aligned with Russia in opposing the expansion of NATO in a joint statement the two leaders issued that day.


Bound by that document, China cannot even advise Russia to change course. Such is the dilemma Beijing faces.


On March 8, Xi spoke online with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and clearly stated that he respects the U.N. Charter. How, then, can he remain silent about Russian aggression that tramples on that same charter? It is obvious that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity have been violated.


Now under intense international scrutiny, China has finally moved to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine. However, this will not stop Russia’s brutality. What is needed is concrete action to push Russia toward an immediate cease-fire.


At their Feb. 4 summit, Xi tacitly gave Putin a green light. As such, the Chinese leader has a major responsibility to end the war.


At his press conference, Li said meeting China’s economic growth target of about 5.5% will “not be easy,” in light of the difficult circumstances both within and outside of China. A major “outside” element is Ukraine. It only makes sense for Beijing, which has some influence over Moscow, to take the initiative to stabilize the situation.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. It has also been 50 years since Japan and China normalized diplomatic relations. After that, the communist government started the policy of “reform and opening up,” putting China on the path toward a socialist market economy.


China’s 40 years of continuous economic development were made possible by good relations with the West, including Japan, the U.S. and Europe. The leaders in Beijing should not forget this history. If China focuses only on its relationship with Russia, which is locked in conflict with democracies, the stable growth it so desires could slip beyond its reach.

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