BEIJING: China is concerned about an escalation of the war in Ukraine and wants Moscow and Kyiv to hold peace talks, senior Chinese diplomat Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart over a phone call on Thursday (Mar 16).
China, which has refrained from condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, has urged both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation leading to a comprehensive ceasefire in its 12-point paper on the "political resolution of the Ukraine crisis".
The plan, which received a lukewarm welcome on both sides, called for the protection of civilians and respect for each other's sovereignty.
"China hopes that all parties will remain calm, rational and restrained, and resume peace talks as soon as possible," Qin told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Russian Vladimir Putin as soon as next week and hold a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Analysts say it will be hard for China to get Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table, but some pointed out that Xi could act as a "back channel" for starting momentum towards talks.