China has made a twelve-point proposal to douse the flames of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which might witness the use of nuclear weapons if the escalation continues. No military/political intellectual could have predicted that the war would last more than a year.
The war has already seen enormous casualties and the destruction of infrastructure, particularly in Ukraine. China’s twelve-point proposal might be an excellent beginning to end the deadliest war after 2nd World War.
However, in doing so, China may have imposed restrictions on itself concerning Taiwan.
China’s Twelve-Point Proposal
1. Respecting the Sovereignty of all Countries
2. Abandoning the Cold War Mentality
3. Ceasing Hostilities
4. Resuming Peace Talks
5. Resolving the Humanitarian Crisis
6. Protecting Civilians and Prisoners of War
7. Keeping Nuclear Power Plants Safe
8. Reducing Strategic Risks
9. Facilitating Grain Exports
10. Stopping Unilateral Sanctions
11. Keeping Industrial and Supply Chains Stable
12. Promoting Post-Conflict Reconstruction
While acknowledging the Chinese initiative, Ukraine has termed the proposal ‘general.’ However, a fallout of the proposal has been President Zelensky publicly stating that he looks forward to meeting President Xi. A probable outcome cannot be predicted if and when the meeting fructifies.
Moving away from the Ukraine-Russia war and the likely effect/outcome of the Chinese proposal, an interesting issue emerges. The problem is, “Is China willing to abide by these 12 suggestions/postulates in case of ongoing tension/conflict with Taiwan?”
Three out of 12 suggestions directly impinge on what China should do regarding resolving the Taiwan imbroglio.
Interpretation Of Specific Proposals
The first issue relates to the Chinese proposal “Respecting the Sovereignty of all Countries.” Does China accept Taiwan as an independent country?
Strict adherence to United Nations Charter, as proposed by China, will directly restrict China from taking offensive military action against Taiwan. Because the UN charter explicitly opposes, rather than condemns, the use of force against any nation and includes it in its territory.
The status of Taiwan as an independent nation since 1949 cannot be challenged, notwithstanding Chinese claims. Chinese proposal further adds, “territorial integrity of all countries big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor are equal members of the international community.”
The Chinese proposal firmly and unambiguously concludes, “Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected.”
The second issue concerns the Chinese proposal “Abandoning the Cold War Mentality.” While in a strict sense, China was not a party to the erstwhile Cold War of the twentieth century between the then USSR and the USA, China has become a party to an ongoing Cold War with the USA in the 21st century, aiming to become a numero uno nation, both economically and militarily.
Chinese proposal states, “The security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others.” If the same precept is applied to Taiwan, China will have no moral right to force unwilling Taiwan to be coerced into joining China.
The third issue relates to “Stopping Unilateral sanctions.” Will China practice this in the case of Taiwan? Chinese proposal states, “unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the issue; they create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the UN Security Council.”
Will China remove the sanctions imposed on numerous Taiwanese citizens and industries? These are indeed not authorized by UNSC.
Nature Of Russia-Ukraine Conflict
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is no longer between two nations. War has decidedly taken a new and (maybe) catastrophic turn, wherein the character of war has changed to Russia vs. NATO.
The USA and virtually all European nations support Ukraine by pumping billions of dollars worth of military hardware and humanitarian aid. Hence, the USA and European countries cannot act as peacemakers.
The prevailing global scenario leaves China and India to act as peacemakers (mediators). Hopefully, China has taken the initiative to resolve the crisis, which may turn into a nuclear war. Thankfully the USA and European nations have announced that they will not be providing the fighter aircraft demanded by Ukraine.
India is providing economic assistance to Russia by default by purchasing Russian crude at much cheaper rates than the international market. While doing so, India has told western nations led by the USA in no uncertain terms that India will decide what is best for India, hence will continue to purchase Russian crude to meet its energy demand, notwithstanding sanctions by western nations on Russia.
It is believed that India may have saved around INR 30,000 crore so far. China, on the other hand, has opted to remain neutral.
China As Peacemaker
The Chinese decision to become a peacemaker emanates from two vital areas of Chinese interest. Firstly, China has been seen as a territory-grabbing nation, be it of its claim on the South China Sea, its numerous islands in that region, or claiming Indian territory. And secondly, China has an opportunity to neutralize/minimize US influence globally because the USA participates in the war.
But while taking on the role of peacemaker, China might have inadvertently assured Taiwan’s security because each assertion made by China regarding Russia’s presumed offensive against Ukraine will be applicable in the event of China attempting to annex Taiwan by force.
Has China guaranteed Taiwan’s security? Surely Chinese leaders have heard of “practice what you preach.”
- Gp Cpt TP Srivastava (Retd) is an ex-NDA who flew MiG-21 and 29. He is a qualified flying instructor. He commanded the MiG-21 squadron. He is a directing staff at DSSC Wellington and chief instructor at the College of Air Warfare. VIEWS PERSONAL
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