De-escalate, avoid civilian casualties in Ukraine: China

Published on Mar 02, 2022 05:18 AM IST

While Beijing has, thus far, refused to condemn Moscow’s attack on Ukraine or term it an invasion, remarks late Monday from Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the UN, indicated a subtle shift in its consistent stand on the invasion.

A civil defenseman stands at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday.  (AP)
A civil defenseman stands at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday.  (AP)
BySutirtho Patranobis, Beijing

China on Monday called the rapidly unfolding situation in Ukraine “heart-wrenching”, and urged the United Nations to prevent a “large-scale humanitarian crisis” in the eastern European country in what appears to be new nuance in Beijing’s total diplomatic, if tacit, support for Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.

To be sure, Beijing has refused, even now, to condemn Moscow’s attack on Ukraine or term it an invasion. But the use of phrases like “heart-wrenching” and “humanitarian crisis” are the closest China has come to expressing distress and sympathy for Kyiv.

China on Friday abstained from the vote on a draft UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution to deplore Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which Russia expectedly vetoed .

But late on Monday, remarks from Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the UN, indicated a subtle shift in Beijing’s consistent stand on the invasion.

“What is unfolding in Ukraine is indeed heart-wrenching. China calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint, de-escalate the situation, and avoid civilian casualties,” Zhang told a meeting of the UNSC on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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