Xi Jinping Tells Zelensky China Will Send Delegation to Ukraine for ‘Talks’

xi zelensky
Hennadii Minchenko/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images, Yao Dawei/Xinhua/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday morning that he held his first telephone conversation with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping since China’s “unlimited partner” Russia invaded Ukraine.

Zelensky described his conversation with Xi as “long and meaningful.”

“I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,” said Zelensky.

According to Chinese state media on Wednesday morning, Xi told Zelensky that only “dialogue and negotiations” could offer a “viable way out for the Ukraine crisis.”

Xi praised China’s bilateral relationship with Ukraine in the call and thanked Zelensky for emphasizing further “developing of China-Ukraine ties and cooperation with China.” Xi also expressed his appreciation for Ukraine’s help in evacuating Chinese citizens after the war began.

“Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the political foundation of the bilateral ties,” Xi reportedly told Zelensky, which seems like a rather hollow sentiment when China’s “unlimited partner” is gleefully committing war crimes in a savage bid to annihilate the Ukrainian state.

Xi concluded by assuring Zelensky that “China’s willingness to develop its relations with Ukraine is consistent and clear,” and that Beijing wants to “push forward mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry praised Xi for demonstrating “China’s objective, impartial position on international affairs” in his remarks to Zelensky.

Xi said during the call that China would send “special representatives” to supervise talks with “all parties” about a “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.” According to the pro-Ukrainian Kyiv Post on Wednesday morning, the Chinese delegation will be led by Li Hui, formerly China’s ambassador to Russia.

The Russians have politely indulged China’s aspirations to broker a peace deal in Ukraine until now, even as some Russian officials visibly struggled to take Beijing’s “12-point peace plan” seriously.  However, Moscow was remarkably critical of the call between Xi and Zelensky, accusing Zelensky of attempting to manipulate China at the behest of his American patrons to ruin any real chance for peace.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks at a briefing about the phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing on April 26, 2023. (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

“The Ukrainian authorities and their Western minders have already shown their ability to mess up any peace initiatives,” the Russian Foreign Ministry snarled on Wednesday.

The Russians accused Ukraine of rejecting “any sensible initiatives aimed at a political and diplomatic settlement,” and said Kyiv poisons every peace proposal with “ultimatums with obviously unrealistic demands.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry softened its tirade a little by praising “the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process” and said there was “broad consonance” between Moscow’s goals and the Chinese “peace plan.”

The Biden administration, which encouraged Xi to call Zelensky, may not welcome China’s growing influence on the matter, as it has also invested astronomical sums of U.S. taxpayer money into the defense of Ukraine, while China sat back and said nothing about the invasion for over a year.

The Biden administration spent the month of February warning that China was “considering the provision of lethal equipment” to Russia’s invasion force, in the words of CIA Director William Burns. 

One of the alleged Pentagon documents purportedly leaked in conversations on the video game chat Discord this year was an alleged U.S. intelligence summary from February that claimed China had approved secret shipments of munitions to Russia disguised as civilian items. The leaked intelligence report included no evidence that such covert shipments had begun yet.

The Chinese denied these allegations and promoted themselves as peacemakers for the Ukraine conflict, insisting that despite Beijing’s inauguration of a “no limits” partnership with Russia in February 2022, China could be a fair and honest broker for ending the war. 

China argued the U.S. and Europe could not serve as brokers because Ukraine is essentially a client state of the United States, which wants to prolong the war in order to “undermine” Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Zelensky is apparently willing to swallow all of that rhetoric from Beijing. The Ukrainian president has been pleading for a meeting with Xi since last summer, invoking Ukraine’s membership in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to promise Beijing an outsized role in rebuilding Ukraine after the war. In one of his last conversations with Xi before the Russian invasion began, Zelensky offered Ukraine as a “bridge to Europe” for Chinese political and economic influence.

In an August 2022 interview, Zelensky described China as a “powerful state” with a “powerful economy” that could “politically and economically influence Russia.” He also hoped China might begin using its membership in the U.N. Security Council to pressure Moscow to back away from the invasion.

“Why should we have the Security Council at all, if any country … or several countries in the world, could simply decide to violate the rules militarily?” Zelensky asked, a question that remains relevant and unanswered eight months later.

Zelensky dismissed the allegations that China planned to assist the Russian invasion in a February 2023 press conference, instead praising Beijing’s heavily-promoted but vague “12-point peace plan” as a sign that China could play a role in ending the war.

“I really want to believe that China will not supply weapons to Russia,” he said. 

Zelensky asked for a meeting with Xi to discuss the proposal, apparently untroubled that China’s “peace plan” did not even call for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

Zelensky asked for a conference with Xi again in March, seizing on some mild criticism from Chinese diplomats for Russia’s conduct of the war. He personally invited Xi to visit Kyiv for the meeting.

“We are ready to see him here. I want to speak with him. I had contact with him before full-scale war. But during all this year, more than one year, I didn’t have,” Zelensky lamented.

One of Zelensky’s top advisers told reporters that “preparatory work” was underway in March for the long-awaited discussion between the Chinese and Ukrainian leaders. Those preparations apparently resulted in Wednesday’s phone call, the first publicly-acknowledged direct contact between Xi and Zelensky since Russia invaded.



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