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20 Feb, 2024 07:37

China tells Ukraine it ‘does not sell lethal weapons’ to conflicting sides

The foreign minister reiterated Beijing’s neutral stance on the hostilities
China tells Ukraine it ‘does not sell lethal weapons’ to conflicting sides

The Chinese foreign minister has told his Ukrainian counterpart that Beijing remains neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and will not sell weapons to either side. Wang Yi and Dmitry Kuleba met at the 60th Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

The talks were the first high-level encounter between Beijing and Kiev since Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky proposed a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January – a request that was reportedly rejected.

Wang Yi told Kuleba that China will not “add fuel to the fire,” seek to profit from the fighting, or “sell lethal weapons in conflict zones,” according to a readout from the Foreign Ministry. “Even if there is only a glimmer of hope for peace, China will not give up its efforts,” Wang Yi added.

In 2022 the US imposed sanctions on several businesses in China that Washington accused of helping the Russian military. China has refuted US claims that it was considering arming Russia. Ukraine has long been seeking China’s support for a 10-point peace plan, proposed by Zelensky last November, which Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has dismissed as “a senseless ultimatum to Russia, aimed at protracting hostilities.” The plan includes the restoration of Ukraine’s 1991 borders.

Since the outbreak of the conflict in February 2022, China has consistently called for a political resolution, and proposed a peace plan of its own last year, demanding a ceasefire and talks. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the peace initiative presented by China could be taken as a basis for a settlement with Ukraine.

Beijing has resisted Western pressure to impose sanctions on Moscow, while boosting economic cooperation with Russia. Chinese customs data shows that bilateral trade grew 26.6% last year, reaching a record $240 billion.