On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has released its 12-point peace proposal. The official English-language version is here. Below is a simplified graphic covering the 12 points.

Here’s my 4-point response:

  1. There’s no reason to go beyond the first point. If that were to be upheld, there would be no ‘special military operation’ crisis to solve.
  2. China is not a credible or honest broker to bring about peace. Just look at its year-long pro-Russia messaging campaign — both domestically and internationally — and its well-documented sanctions cushioning and sanctions evasion assistance to Russia (oil purchases, currency support, dual-use supplies (microchips, electronics, etc) and now on the verge of adding artillery, drones and other lethal military hardware to the list). Zelensky is willing to talk to China but only in the hope that China will pressure Putin to back off. Unlikely China will apply that pressure in any way forceful enough for Putin to give it a second thought.
  3. Words are the easy part. Brokering peace is 99% about engaging in good faith and intensive consulations with both sides and then buckling down to sustained application of leverage and excruciating follow-through. There’s no indication that Beijing is ready to undertake — or even interested in undertaking — this hard part.
  4. The document primarily serves Xi Jinping’s purposes rather than Kyiv’s and Moscow’s. It gives him a modicum of ballast as he postures as sitting on the fence whereas, in reality, he has a foot firmly down on Moscow’s side and his “frirendship without limits.” Additionally, it serves to score points against the U.S. in line with his new “direct confrontation with the United States” policy while also providing some catnip to non-aligned global players like Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, South Africa, India and Indonesia.

In short, non-credible but a sly and carefully orchestrated move to advance Xi Jinping’s own gameplan.

P.S. Since today is the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I am providing a link here back to the post I made on the eve of that invasion on February 21, 2022. It has unsettling resonances when reconsidered one year later.