China’s Track-II diplomacy: A win-win game theory | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


China’s Track-II diplomacy: A win-win game theory

AFTER the official visit of Xi to Moscow, the Chinese government and policy makers have been striving hard to win “substantial support” from the main regional stakeholders as well as international players to reach some kind of “sustainable truce” in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict which vividly reflects its “peaceful persuasions” towards a win-win game situation for all which is indeed a good omen for the regional peace, stability and harmony. Interestingly, in the near past French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen personally visited Beijing to thoroughly discuss the possibility of some “diplomatic breakthrough” on the issue of Russia-Ukraine conflict. They also talked about gearing up for economic cooperation and mutual interests. The body language of these leaders clearly suggested a high level of political understanding, willingness of immense economic integration and last but not the least recognition of diplomatic efforts to resolve the burning issue of Ukraine as soon as possible.

Despite western false, fake, fabricated and factious propaganda about Chinese’s pro-Russia neutrality and untrue supply of arms to Russia the Chinese government has been sincerely advocating “Constructive Neutrality” to resolve the prevailing threat of Russia-Ukraine conflict. In this regard, the Chinese foreign ministry has been emphasizing the need to give a chance to meaningful and interactive “diplomacy” to overcome the differences, matching with “preferential preferences” of both the conflicting parties. Afterwards, sincere Chinese efforts were launched to contact the political leadership of both the sides to start spells of peaceful negotiations.

In an interesting diplomatic gesture the Chinese government has decided to send a special representative to Ukraine and other countries to hold talks with all parties on resolving the “crisis,” Xi told Zelensky, according to a Chinese readout of the call. During the meaningful telephone call on 26 April 2023 with the Ukrainian counterpart, the Chinese President Xi added “amid the current rise of reasonable thinking and voices from all sides, we should seize the opportunity to build up favourable conditions for a political settlement of the crisis. On his part, Zelensky, posting on Twitter, said that he and Xi “had a long and meaningful conversation.” He said that “this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s Ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations.” Zelensky had been seeking a meeting or call with Xi before Xi’s visit to Moscow for a state visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.

China has declared itself to be neutral in the conflict in Ukraine and his meeting with Putin suggested a willingness to hear out Moscow’s claims that its security interests have been violated by the United States and other NATO nations in their support for Ukraine. Ahead of Xi’s visit to Moscow, Beijing outlined a 12-point proposal for peace in Ukraine that Washington and Kyiv have dismissed as a nonstarter. Among the prominent international experts of international relations, regional security and diplomacy, China has long been considered a possible “game changer” in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Due to constant and continued western propaganda the US and Ukrainian officials fear that China could allegedly provide Russia with military aid which has been proved false and fake propaganda.

On his visit to China, French President Macron has implored China to get more involved, taking advantage of its position as a rare country with some sway over Moscow to resolve the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. During his three-day visit to Beijing Macron told Xi, “I know I can count on you to bring Russia and everyone to the negotiating table.” Most recent telephone call to Ukraine was a diplomatic victory for China and its peaceful diplomatic efforts to discuss the prospects of dialogue, diplomacy and development orientations between the conflicting sides in the days to come.

A Biden administration spokesman said on April 26 2023 that the United States was glad to see that Xi and Zelensky had connected. Asked about the possibility of China brokering a settlement between Kyiv and Moscow, John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, said that any deal must be one that Zelensky accepts. “The only settlement that we think is worth pursuing is one that President Zelensky thinks is worth pursuing,” Kirby said. The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this month that “undoubtedly, China has a very effective and commanding potential for mediation,” but “the situation with Ukraine is complex; so far, there are no prospects for a political settlement.” Xi also told Zelensky that “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the political foundation of China-Ukraine relations.”

Xi’s aims in mediating Russia-Ukraine talks appear to establish China as a leading, potentially indispensable and peaceful diplomatic force in the region and on the global scene which should be highly appreciated. Xi’s mediation initiative is also likely to find substantial success in elevating the prestige of Chinese diplomacy, particularly in the developing world. Moscow and Beijing’s national narratives about the causes of the ongoing conflict have found traction outside the West.

To conclude, it is hoped that Beijing’s facilitated peace process of resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict will further strengthen China-Europe relations. It suggests that policy makers and military junta of the US and the West should come out from their self-defined parameters of security, regional peace and jointly work for achieving durable truce in the ongoing conflict by respecting genuine security concerns of Russia about the NATO strategic expansion at its door-step. It also suggests that the West from Kyiv to Brussels to Washington should not waste any more time to reconcile towards resolution by showing unity and shared purpose to put an end to the conflict. It seems that Xi Jinping’s Global Development, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilizational Initiative have come of age and are receiving immense diplomatic recognition and political acceptance in the region and around the globe which is a good omen. Conflicts are anti-human and holistic policies of China are the ultimate response to global peace, stability and harmony.

—The writer is Executive Director, Centre for South Asia & International Studies, Islamabad, regional expert China, BRI & CPEC & senior analyst, world affairs, Pakistan Observer.

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