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Envoy says consensus on Ukraine needs push

By ZHANG YUNBI | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-06-03 01:04

Li Hui, the special representative of the Chinese government on Eurasian Affairs, speaks to reporters after a briefing in Beijing on Friday. [Zhang Yunbi / China Daily]

For Li Hui, the special representative of the Chinese government on Eurasian affairs, his recently concluded trip to exchange views with various parties on a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis was no easy journey due to inconvenience in transportation.

From May 15 to 26, Li, the former Chinese ambassador to Russia and a veteran diplomat on Eurasian affairs, visited Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany, the European Union's headquarters and Russia.

This was the first time that China has sent a special delegation to relevant countries to conduct diplomatic work on seeking a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.

Having no chance to travel directly by train from the Polish capital Warsaw to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the Chinese delegation arrived at the two countries' shared border at midnight before "a 14-hour train trip to Kyiv", Li told media from home and abroad at a briefing on Friday in Beijing about the recent trip.

When asked about future steps Beijing will take on tackling the crisis, Li said "China is willing to actively consider sending personnel to relevant countries again to communicate on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis", and Beijing "is willing to maintain communication with all parties in this regard".

"China will, in light of the development of the situation and the reaction of the international community, decide the direction of its work and concrete initiatives intended for the near future," Li said.

According to recent remarks by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning, Li's trip took place in order to "have extensive contact and exchanges with various parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis" and to "build up international common understanding".

Speaking on the current situation, Li said, "At present, various parties may still face a lot of difficulties in sitting down at the table to negotiate, talk and get results".

"But it is important that people step forward to push for achieving consensus and the most common ground, and to accumulate and create conditions for the final settlement of the crisis," Li added.

During the recent journey, Li was impressed by the positive responses from various parties — Ukraine, Russia, other European countries, and the EU — toward China's efforts in promoting peace talks.

"Such responses once again show that China is objective and impartial on the Ukraine crisis and the international community speaks highly of this," he said.

Chen Yuming, vice-president of the China Public Diplomacy Association, said, "The trip was full of hardship, twists and turns, and so is the settlement of the crisis".

To illustrate the "worrying situation" and the great risks of a potential escalation of the conflict, Li noted at the briefing that, "I spent a total of three days in Ukraine this time. Kyiv had air defense alerts every day during those three days, and there were two large-scale airstrikes. "

"As long as there is a glimmer of hope for peace, we should make active efforts instead of letting the conflict develop, let alone adding fuel to the fire, which will lead to the escalation of local conflicts into large-scale wars," he said.

During his trip, all parties expressed great concern over issues such as nuclear security, the humanitarian crisis and food security.

"Making sure that the situation cools down and eases is the fundamental way to solve the nuclear security issue," said the envoy.

He urged for a halt to moves to sending weapons to the conflict zone, otherwise the tension "will further spiral".

The envoy also criticized recent media disinformation that attempts to "alienate China from Ukraine" or from Russia, including one recent report by the Wall Street Journal on Li's trip that has been clarified by Kyiv.

"It is immoral and dangerous to fan up confrontation, spread disinformation and seek political selfish interests," he added.

Speaking of the prospects for a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, Li noted that despite the many challenges which have to be overcome before the various parties can sit at a negotiating table, there still has been some consensus, and "neither Russia nor Ukraine have completely closed the door on peace talks".

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