The Chinese envoy who traveled to major cities in Europe last month to encourage peace negotiations over the Ukraine said on Friday that Beijing is considering sending out another mission after admitting that his trip would not yield any results right away.
Li Hui denied a media claim that he supported a ceasefire that would allow its partner Russia to take areas of Ukraine during a news conference, and he asserted that Beijing would “do anything” to reduce tensions.
However, there are high hurdles to finding common ground between the warring sides, he added.
“We felt that there is a big gap between both sides’ positions … Getting all sides to negotiate now would still face a lot of difficulties,” said Li, China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs and a former long-serving ambassador to Moscow.
“China is willing to actively consider sending another delegation to relevant countries to engage in dialogue on resolving the Ukraine crisis,” said Li, without elaborating on which countries.
In May, Li completed a 12-day tour of Kyiv, Warsaw, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Moscow in what China said was a bid to find common ground for an eventual political settlement.
“The risk of escalation of the Russia-Ukraine war is still high,” Li said, adding that all sides must take concrete measures to “cool down the situation” and ensure the safety of nuclear facilities.
“As long as it’s conducive to easing the situation, China is willing to do anything,” he said.
The United States and several European countries have urged Beijing to use its influence over Russia to seek an end to the crisis, although Beijing’s refusal to condemn Moscow over the invasion has raised suspicion of its motives.
Li, China’s ambassador to Moscow from 2009 to 2019, said Russia has appreciated China’s desire and efforts to promote a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Earlier this year, China published a 12-point peace plan, calling for the protection of civilians and the sovereignty of all countries be respected.
French and German officials with knowledge of Li’s meetings in Europe said he had stuck closely to these talking points and had been eager to stress the role of the United States in escalating the crisis by supplying weapons to Ukraine.
“There was no peace plan. It was more of a session of doing a roundtable of each of our positions,” said the French official, requesting anonymity to discuss sensitive meetings.
“I don’t think we expect China to be a mediator, but it can use its influence on Russia and can help make it understand.”