China blames Ukraine crisis on ‘invisible hand’

At wide-ranging press conference, Foreign Minister Qin Gang also describes Taiwan as a ‘red line’ in relations with US.

China's foreign minister Qin Gang waves
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang waves to the media as he arrives for the press conference in Beijing [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

The Ukraine crisis seems to be driven by an invisible hand pushing for the protraction and escalation of the conflict, according to China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang.

The “invisible hand” is “using the Ukraine crisis to serve certain geopolitical agendas”, Qin said at a press conference on the sidelines of the country’s annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing, without specifying who he was referring to.

He called for dialogue to begin as soon as possible.

“Conflict, sanctions, and pressure will not solve the problem … The process of peace talks should begin as soon as possible, and the legitimate security concerns of all parties should be respected,” Qin said.

China’s position on the Ukraine war has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks amid its deepening relationship with Moscow and concern in Western capitals that it cannot be an honest broker in any potential peace talks when it has refused to name Russia as the aggressor in the conflict.

Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on February 24 last year in what it calls a “special military operation”. The conflict has left Ukrainian cities in ruins, sent millions fleeing abroad and undermined the global economy.

Qin stressed that Beijing had not provided weapons to either side of the Ukraine conflict, amid comments from United States officials on unspecified “consequences” for China should it send lethal aid to Russia.

“[China] is not a party to the crisis and has not provided weapons to either side of the conflict. So on what basis is this talk of blame, sanctions and threats against China? This is absolutely unacceptable.”

In a wide-ranging and lengthy encounter with reporters, Qin also spoke about the US-China relationship, saying he hoped the two countries could find the “right way to get along”.

He stressed that the self-ruled island of Taiwan was central to the conduct of ties between Beijing and Washington, describing it as “the core of the core issues, and the first red line that must not be crossed in US-China relations”.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its own and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island. It has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure on the island since Tsai Ing-wen, who it claims is seeking independence, was first elected president in 2016. Tsai has said the future of the island is up to Taiwan’s people.

The US is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies