China turned down Zelensky – Politico
Chinese Premier Li Qiang shot down Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s request for a meeting at the World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering in Davos this week, Politico reported on Wednesday. Several days beforehand, Ukrainian official Andrey Yermak had said that talks with China would be essential to push Kiev’s controversial “peace plan.”
A senior US official told the news site that “Beijing rejected Kiev’s request for a meeting at some point during their mutual Swiss visits,” while another American official said that China has ruled out any “diplomatic encounters” with Ukraine at Russia’s behest. A Ukrainian official claimed that no meeting between Li and Zelensky was ever planned, while the Chinese government refused to comment.
News of the apparent snub is a setback for Zelensky, after envoys from 83 countries gathered in the Alpine resort on Sunday to discuss Kiev’s 10-point proposal to end the conflict in Ukraine. China did not send a representative to the talks, which ended without a joint communique being issued.
Speaking to reporters after the discussion concluded, Andrey Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said that Kiev would “find ways to work with China” on the ‘peace plan’, before suggesting that Zelensky and Li would meet when the WEF’s annual summit began the following day.
Zelensky and Li had “ample opportunity” to talk this week, Politico noted. However, Zelensky traveled back to Ukraine on Tuesday after delivering a verbal tirade against Russia and demanding more weapons and ammunition from his Western backers, while Li focused his address to the WEF on economic issues, pitching China as a lucrative destination for foreign investment.
Zelensky’s ‘peace plan’ proposes that Russia pay reparations, surrender its officials to face war crimes tribunals, and restore Ukraine’s 1991 borders. It has been rejected by the Kremlin as “absurd,” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov referring to it last month as a publicity stunt and “a figment of a sick imagination.”
Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who chaired Sunday’s discussion, has also critiqued the Ukrainian plan. Speaking to reporters on the sideline of the meeting, he said that “Russia will have to be included” for any talks to succeed in ending the conflict, emphasizing that “there will be no peace without Russia’s word.”
China presented its own 12-point peace roadmap early last year, calling for a ceasefire, peace talks, an abandonment of the “Cold War mentality,” and an end to sanctions, while promoting global economic stability and international supply chains. The roadmap was welcomed by Moscow, but was poorly received by Kiev and swiftly dismissed by the US and its allies.