Letters & Opinion

Backing the Beijing Peace Plan for Ukraine

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

One year after the Ukraine conflict, China has emerged as a welcome arbiter with a 12-point peace plan presented to Ukraine and Russia, the European Union (EU), the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the rest of the world — and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he’s willing to talk to Beijing about it.

All accept China can bring Russia and Ukraine to the table, but while those backing the fighting balk at the thought of Beijing leading the charge for world peace, European nations in the line of fire don’t agree to prolongation of a war that’s taken thousands of lives and wrought billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructural destruction.

NATO nations continue arming Ukraine with tanks and missiles, but not the fighter jets and long-range missiles President Zelensky says he so desperately needs to win against Russia.

The UK has started training Ukrainian troops for the long haul, but France, Germany and others have concluded that the costly negative economic and political blowbacks at home in the past year cannot be sustained and have been quietly urging Ukraine’s president to negotiate peace.

Ukraine’s backers are in a Catch 22 situation, not wanting to provide arms that can go beyond the battlefields into Russia, yet not wanting to appear unwilling to help Ukraine.

After over US $100 Billion worth of arms and economic assistance and thousands of enlisted ‘volunteer’ foreign (mainly European and American) fighters, the fighting is nowhere near ending.

Frustrated by President Zelensky’s escalating demands, NATO leaders say they won’t directly join the fighting, even though arming Ukraine.

A negotiated solution is even more acute now following the failure of last week’s G-20 Foreign Affairs ministers meeting in Delhi, where India had hoped to highlight and address effects of the war on the world.

But instead of inviting Ukraine and Russia to accept China’s invitation to smoke the peace pipe, the more powerful nations continue beating war drums.

China’s recent round of globetrotting diplomacy ahead of anniversary of the conflict suggested Beijing was planning for peace talks, but US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken suddenly claimed — without offering proof — that Beijing was “preparing to offer lethal support” to Russia for use in Ukraine.

US-China ties having ballooned out of proportion over the so-called ‘spy balloon’ incident; and anti-China expressions have been ramped-up in the US since last November’s mid-term elections that altered the balance of power in the Congress.

Washington recently stressed it was pursuing a policy of global “strategic” economic and military “competition” with China, but Beijing has stoutly repudiated the competitive factor, saying it can only result in difficulties for the world.

Those opposed to China’s peace plan incomprehensibly insist that Beijing does not qualify to be a genuine broker because it’s never took a side by condemning Russia.

But the global mood has changed rapidly in the past year, with increasing evidence of war fatigue in Europe and North America, while food and fuel prices, inflation and recession rock the most vulnerable in the continents on both sides of the Atlantic, worsened by the worst aspects of Climate Change experienced globally in decades – and compounded by growing popular anti-war protests in Germany and Japan.

Politics is also very much at play, with presidential elections approaching in the US and Taiwan next year and early national polls also expected in Turkey and Pakistan later this year.

Meanwhile, the new Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, plans to meet Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen in the US next month during a stopover visit on her way to Belize and Guatemala, totally dismissing growing concerns in the US and Taiwan about another round of the international and regional military and political, diplomatic and economic tensions caused by the visit by his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, last August.

With elections also around the corner in Taiwan and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party performing admirably in last year’s local government polls, the ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP) can be expected to want to up the ante and raise the political stakes.

But any meeting between Madam Tsai and Speaker McCarthy, no matter where, will further undermine China-US ties.

All wars end through peace talks and so will Ukraine’s, but how fast will depend, in greater part, on the willingness of its Western backers to back-off from continuing to arm Ukraine, which it simply cannot win alone.

The rest of the world should therefore continue to trust in China to bring Russia and Ukraine to the table.

At their last summit in The Bahamas last month, after being courted for support by President Zelensky, CARICOM nations opted to call for peace.

Caribbean and Latin American, African, Arab, Asian, Indo and Pacific nations, developing countries in the G-77 and G-20, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) — at the United Nations (UN) and other international for a — should also now together support China’s peace plan.

The world should also press for cessation of all military engagements in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Seas and resist the clear efforts to use Taiwan as a diversionary distraction by ramping-up Cross-Strait tensions.

Ukraine is a tragedy that could and should have been avoided, but some nations are also clearly pushing to protract and escalate the conflict to serve geopolitical agendas.

China has chosen peace over war, dialogue over sanctions and cooling-down the tensions, instead of fuelling the fire; and it is not a party to the crisis, nor has it provided weapons to either side: it’s simply out to facilitate peace talks, which is what the world is counting on it to achieve.

Peace talks should therefore begin as soon as possible, and the legitimate security concerns of all parties should be respected, which is undoubtedly a good way to achieve durable security in Europe.

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