China Held Diplomatic Talk with Ukraine, Acknowledged the Conflict as War

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday said China is extremely concerned about the harm to civilians in Ukraine.

He added China is also “deplores the outbreak of conflict between Ukraine and Russia,” according to a statement posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

The remarks were published after a call between Wang and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the most senior exchange since Russia’s Vladimir Putin launched the invasion Thursday.

During the call, Wang acknowledged the conflict was a “war” rather than a “special military operations” as described by Russia. Kuleba said Ukraine was willing to strengthen communication with China and that it looked forward to China’s “mediation for the realization of the cease-fire,” according to the statement.

“This is a very important event and signals the very high attention that the Chinese government is paying to the Ukraine crisis,” said Henry Wang Huiyao, founder of the Center for China & Globalization policy research group in Beijing.

“If both Ukraine and Russia invite China to be a mediator, then China would probably join.”

However, yet China refrained publicly calling for a cease-fire or describing the war as “invasion” and thus a violation of the U.N.-guaranteed sovereignty Beijing frequently vows to uphold.

China hasn’t criticized Russia, and continues to voice support its security concerns and blame the U.S. for precipitating the crisis.

During the call, Wang Yi said China always upholds respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and called on Ukraine and Russia to “find a solution to the issue through negotiations,” according to the statement. China supports all constructive international effort conducive to “political settlement,” he added.

“As the war continues to expand, the top priority is to ease the situation to prevent the conflict from escalating or even getting out of control, especially to prevent harm to civilians, and to ensure the safe and timely access of humanitarian aid,” the Chinese foreign minister said.