China Will Send an Envoy to Russia and Ukraine to Help Negotiate an End to the War

A Chinese government envoy will visit Ukraine and Russia next week in an attempt to help negotiate an end to the war, a Chinese government spokesman said on Friday.

China had announced its intention to send the official, Li Hui — the government’s special representative for Eurasian affairs — after a phone call last month between its top leader, Xi Jinping, and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Beijing had said that Mr. Li would “conduct in-depth communication with all parties” to try to reach a “political settlement.”

Beijing has been trying to position itself as a potential peace broker in the war, especially as Mr. Xi casts himself as a global statesman and China as an alternative to the United States for global leadership. In February, China issued what it described as a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine, though Western officials criticized it as lacking substance.

Still, since the war broke out in February 2022, many in the West have looked to the role that China could play. Kyiv has described China, which has a close partnership with Russia, as potentially the only country with enough sway to persuade President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to end the war. But the close ties between Moscow and Beijing have also spurred concerns in Europe and the United States that China might in fact act to help Russia’s war effort.

Mr. Li, the special representative, has his own long history in Russia: He served as China’s ambassador there for 10 years, and in 2019, Mr. Putin awarded him a “Medal of Friendship.”

Beijing on Friday offered few details about what Mr. Li would do in Ukraine and Russia or whom he would meet. The trip is expected to begin on Monday, and Mr. Li will also visit France, Germany and Poland, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, said at a regularly scheduled briefing.

Mr. Wang reiterated the Chinese government’s line that it is neutral in the conflict, though it has refused to call Russia’s actions an invasion.

“This is another demonstration of China’s commitment to promoting and urging peace talks,” he said of Mr. Li’s trip. “The international community’s calls for a cease-fire and end to the war are growing louder and louder, and China is willing to play a constructive role.”

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