China’s Ukraine envoy appealed Friday to other governments to “stop sending weapons to the battlefield” and hold peace talks, but gave no indication that his trip to the region made any progress toward a settlement.
Li Hui’s appeal came as Washington and its European allies are ramping up supplies of missiles, tanks and other weapons to Ukrainian forces that are trying to take back Russian-occupied territory.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government says it is neutral and wants to serve as a mediator but has supported Moscow politically.
“China believes that if we really want to put an end to war, to save lives and realize peace, it is important for us to stop sending weapons to the battlefield, or else the tensions will only spiral up,” Li told reporters.
Li visited Ukraine, Russia, Poland, France, Germany and the European Union headquarters during a May 15-28 trip.
Political analysts saw little chance that the Chinese initiative would make progress, but it gives Beijing an opportunity to expand its global diplomatic role.
Beijing released a proposed peace plan in February, but Ukraine’s allies insisted President Vladimir Putin must first withdraw Russian forces.
China sees Moscow as a diplomatic and military partner in opposing United States domination of global affairs. Beijing has refused to criticize the invasion and used its status as one of five permanent United Nations Security Council members to deflect diplomatic attacks on Russia.