FM Wang Yi insists China ‘force for peace’, defends Russian ties | Politics News

At a rare press conference in Beijing, Wang Yi calls for peace talks to end the two-year conflict in Ukraine.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said China sees itself as a “force for peace” in the world even as it pursues deeper ties with Russia despite Moscow’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

“Facing the complex turmoil in the international environment, China will persevere in being a force for peace, a force for stability and a force for progress in the world,” Wang told reporters at a news conference in Beijing on Thursday. the sidelines of the annual meeting of the country’s parliament.

Wang, speaking in Mandarin, was also asked about China’s relationship with Russia, which began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The two countries announced a “no borders” partnership shortly before the invasion when Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing, and last year on his visit to Moscow, Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed a “new era” of cooperation.

The foreign minister said the closer relationship between Beijing and Moscow was a “strategic choice,” noting that bilateral trade had reached a record $240 billion by 2023.

“New opportunities” lay ahead, he added, portraying the two countries’ ties as a “new paradigm” in great power relations.

“Major countries should not seek conflict and the Cold War should not return,” Wang said.

China has positioned itself as a neutral party in the war in Ukraine, releasing a 12-point peace plan on the first anniversary of the conflict calling for a ceasefire and talks between the two sides.

On Thursday, Wang insisted that Beijing maintain an “objective and impartial position” on Ukraine and renewed his call for peace talks, noting that peace envoy Li Hui was currently in the region.

“A conflict, if it lasts longer, tends to worsen and escalate and can lead to an even bigger crisis,” Wang said.

During the wide-ranging discussion, which lasted 90 minutes, the 70-year-old Wang was also asked about issues such as the Gaza conflict, China’s relationship with the United States and the disputed South China Sea.

The veteran diplomat called Israel’s five-month war in Gaza and the world’s apparent inability to stop the bloodshed a “tragedy for humanity and a disgrace for civilization.”

Israel sent its troops into the area after Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2006, launched an attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1,139 people and kidnapping some 250 Israelis and foreigners.

At least 30,717 Palestinians have since been killed in the bombings, amid a collapse of the health care system and a growing risk of famine. Hamas released some prisoners during a ceasefire in November, but is believed to still be holding around 100 people.

Wang urged the release of “all prisoners” and called for an immediate ceasefire and peace talks.

“The Gaza disaster is a wake-up call for the world,” he said.

Talks between Egypt, Qatar and the US on a six-week ceasefire ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan have so far failed to lead to a breakthrough.

Wang also reiterated China’s long-standing commitment to a two-state solution, saying it is the only way to end the conflict.

He also said China supported Palestine’s “full” membership of the United Nations.

On relations with the US, which restored some balance late last year after the two countries’ presidents met in San Francisco, Wang struck a tone of optimism even as he lashed out at Washington for sanctions that he said were a had reached “mind-boggling levels of inscrutability.” absurdity”.

Noting that the US and China would celebrate 45 years of formal bilateral ties this year, Wang said China wanted relations that were “stable and consistent” and that Washington could work with Beijing on the basis of “mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win situations ”. winning cooperation.”

The two sides are at odds over a range of issues, from Taiwan to trade and an alleged Chinese spy balloon that was shot down last year after crossing into the US.

Wang reiterated China’s claim over Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing claims is part of its territory, and said those who sought independence would be “liquidated by history.”

He also had stark warnings about the disputed South China Sea, where China, which claims almost the entire sea despite an international tribunal finding it unfounded, has been involved in several confrontations with the Philippines in recent months.

In the latest incident on Tuesday, the Philippines said its boat was damaged by a Chinese coast guard ship that tried to block a supply mission to the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, located about 200 km (125 miles) off the western Philippine island of Palawan. than 1,000 km (621 miles) from the southern island of Hainan in China.

Manila has moved closer to the US amid growing tension in strategic waters where China also deploys a maritime militia and its fishing fleet.

Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim parts of the South China Sea around their coasts.

“We firmly oppose all acts of hegemony and bullying, and will firmly uphold national sovereignty and security, as well as development interests,” Wang said.

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