China is “deeply concerned” about the escalation of the Ukraine conflict, Chinese foreign minister, Qin Gang said on Tuesday even as he urged the international community not to draw parallels between Ukraine and Taiwan, the self-ruled democracy, which Beijing claims as a breakaway region and has never ruled out using force to merge it with the mainland.
“It has been almost a year since the full escalation of the Ukraine crisis. The international community is watching the developments closely. China is deeply worried about the escalation of the conflict and a possible spiral out of control,” Qin said in Beijing on Tuesday during the unveiling of President Xi Jinping’s new “Global Security Initiative” (GSI).
“In the meantime, we urge certain countries to immediately stop fuelling the fire, stop shifting blame to China, and stop touting ‘Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow’,” Qin said, according to an official readout of his speech released by the Chinese foreign ministry.
Qin was referring to the frequent speculation that China was closely tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ahead of Beijing’ own invasion of Taiwan – not a matter of it but when – to merge it with the mainland.
Qin’s speech and the outlines of the GSI he unveiled were an attempt to portray China as a neutral and responsible world power, pushing for peace amid global turmoil: It’s a narrative met with scepticism by Western powers.
“Since the outbreak of the (Ukraine) crisis, China has taken an objective and impartial stance based on the merits of the issue,” Qin said, adding that Beijing has reiterated that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, and the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously.
China – which has provided strong political backing to the Russia on Ukraine and has never described Moscow’s action as an invasion – Qin said, will continue to promote peace talks, contribute its ideas for a political settlement of the crisis, and join the international community to promote dialogue and consultation, address the concerns of all parties and seek common security.
Beijing on Monday also denied US claims that it was considering arming Russia against Ukraine instead blaming Washington for the situation.
Despite talks of peace, China’s aggressive position on the Taiwan issue, however, has worried the western powers especially in the backdrop of the Chinese armed forces’ increasingly frequent incursions into Taiwanese territory.
“It was never a country and it will absolutely not be a country as well,” top diplomat Wang Yi said as much at the Munich Security Conference, adding: “That is the true reality of the Taiwan issue.”
On the newly rolled out GSI, Qin said it upholds the UN’s central role in security governance. “The authority of the UN should be safeguarded. The UN should be supported in its efforts to prevent war and conflict, develop the peace-building architecture and promote post-war reconstruction, and in playing a bigger role in global security affairs,” the FM said. “Support should be extended to the parties involved to settle their disputes and differences through dialogue and consultation. The international community should speak up for justice, cool down hotspots and deflate tensions,” Qin said.