US, NATO urged to stop adding fuel to fire in Ukraine conflict

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, speaks at a Security Council debate at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept 23, 2021. (WANG YING / XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS – A Chinese envoy on Wednesday asked the United States and NATO to stop adding fuel to fire in the Ukraine conflict.

Peace can never be achieved by imposing sanctions and pressure or sending weapons. Peace must be strived for and maintained by all parties working together. No matter how complex the situation is, how serious the differences are, the door to diplomacy and dialogue cannot be closed, Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, told a Security Council meeting on the Ukraine conflict.

The United States and NATO should seriously reflect on the role they have been playing, and focus their efforts on what truly is conducive to peace, instead of adding fuel to the fire, said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations

The positive progress on the grain export agreements demonstrates the potential of diplomacy and the possibility of a political solution. China hopes Russia and Ukraine will continue the dialogue and communication between them so as to return to diplomatic negotiations at an early date, and create the momentum needed for a cease-fire, he said.

The United States and NATO should seriously reflect on the role they have been playing, and focus their efforts on what truly is conducive to peace, instead of adding fuel to the fire, he said.

There is a need to set up a safety valve for the Ukraine conflict, Zhang said.

ALSO READ: Foreign Minister: Don’t use Ukraine to harm China

International humanitarian law should guide the conduct of parties to the conflict. Civilians and civilian facilities cannot be the target of military strikes. Recently, frequent attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have led to widespread attention and concerns, casting a nuclear shadow over the world. China once again calls on all relevant parties to exercise restraint, act with caution, refrain from any action that may compromise the safety and security of the nuclear facility, and avoid crossing the nuclear safety red line, the envoy said.

"We also expect the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct a site visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible to make a professional and technical assessment of the situation, so as to take follow-up measures to prevent a nuclear disaster," Zhang said.

There is also a need to reduce the humanitarian impacts of the Ukraine conflict, he added.

The international community should, on the one hand, help Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced persons tide over the difficulties, and on the other hand, reduce the impacts of the conflict on global food, energy and financial stability, he said.

ALSO READ: Ukraine conflict: China says it always stands on the side of peace

China commends UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and relevant parties for their efforts to facilitate the grain export agreements. China is pleased to see that over 20 ships carrying over 700,000 tons of grain have left Ukraine for multiple destinations around the world. This will play an important role in curbing rising food prices, stabilizing the international food market, and easing the food shortages in developing countries, he said.

"At the same time, removing barriers to the export of food and fertilizers from Russia is also highly important. We hope that the United Nations can, in accordance with its memorandum of understanding with Russia, help address the chilling effect caused by relevant countries' abuse of sanctions, and ensure the stable and smooth running of the global industrial chains and supply chains," said Zhang.

China's position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. China always maintains that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter upheld, the legitimate security concerns of all countries taken seriously, and all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis supported. China is ready to work with all peace-loving countries to promote peace and dialogue and facilitate the easing of the situation, he said.

Zhang also warned of the dangers of a new Cold War and stressed the importance of safeguarding global strategic stability.

ALSO READ: EU presidency to focus on effects of Russia-Ukraine conflict

"The Ukraine crisis and a series of recent tense developments around the world show that … we must be highly vigilant against any deliberate attempts to provoke troubles and intensify division and confrontation, and we must safeguard global strategic stability," he said at the meeting.

"We should never allow the world to slide into a new Cold War." 

Facts have proved that the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation must be firmly rejected, he said.

Over 30 years after the end of the Cold War, NATO kept expanding eastward, which has not made Europe any safer, but sowed the seed of conflict. All humanity lives in an indivisible security community, and common security is in the utmost common interests of all countries. Security of one country should not come at the expense of that of another country, and regional security cannot be realized by beefing up military blocs, he said.

Today in the 21st century, the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game are long-outdated concepts. Obsessing over military forces and seeking absolute security will only lead to constant escalation of tensions, which is not in the interests of any party, he said.

READ MORE: US smearing of China over Ukraine slammed

Facts have proved that decoupling and choosing sides must be firmly rejected, said Zhang.

The economies around the world are deeply integrated. Certain countries wantonly imposing unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, politicizing and weaponizing the economy, trade and technology, and insisting on decoupling and building "small yard, high fence" has led to further difficulties in people's livelihoods in developing countries, and threatened global food, energy and finance security, he said.