Diplomacy is notorious as the art of saying nothing at great length and whether it’s lost in translation or just a cultural habit, Chinese diplomatic documents tend to consist of either meaningless vagueness or bellicose threats.
China’s peace plan for Ukraine is vapidly meaningless consisting of general humanitarian ideas. It’s not a plan so much as a series of general sentiments with no particular notion of how to move them forward.
Ceasefire. Peace talks. Protecting POWs. Most of this is generic stuff that a lot of people would agree with.
China’s plan supports Russian insofar as it comes out against sanctions and NATO, but efforts to reduce China’s play here to a Russian ally are overly simplistic.
Xi doesn’t care about Putin. Like everything China does, it’s about China.
And what does China actually care about?
“Keeping industrial and supply chains stable” and “facilitating grain exports”. China would like its stuff now.
Sorry Russia and Ukraine, China would like Its stuff now. Much as I predicted, the plan concludes with an offer of Chinese help “reconstructing” Ukraine afterward. That’s Mandarin for “taking over your country and making it our puppet.”
Russia dismissed China’s peace plan as being unready. Zelensky, who will happily meet with anyone from Hollywood celebrities to vloggers, would be happy to talk about it with China while it goes nowhere.
The only thing China’s peace plan really communicates is that it doesn’t care about the rest of the world except as a series of economic counters. It knows the language of international diplomacy, but is entirely unconvincing when using it. Russia and Ukraine have spent a lot of time convincing the rest of the world that they have a stake in this conflict to the extent that Ukraine Derangement Syndrome has overrun US politics with everything domestically being read through the lens of Russia and Ukraine. China simply doesn’t care. And it’s incapable of even trying to convince anyone that it does. Putin tries to convince conservatives that he’s on their side by attacking wokeness. Zelensky has had a full-court media press forever.
China is beating us in any number of areas, but it feels like propaganda may never be of them. The PRC is just too culturally xenophobic to care about the rest of the world. Despite all the money it spends on influence operations, it can manipulate our politicians and institutions in the crudest ways through money, but it lacks the ability to appeal to anything more than that. China has made it very clear that it just wants its stuff.