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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on Ukraine

2023-01-13 18:06

Mr. President,

Secretary-General Guterres in his New Year’s message stated that in 2023 we need peace now more than ever. Helping Ukraine and the European region restore peace and stability is an unshakable responsibility of the international community, the Security Council in particular, and a goal for which we should redouble our efforts in the new year. In the light of recent developments, I wish to make the following four observations. 

First, to create conditions for dialogue and negotiations. The current situation in Ukraine is the result of the long-term accumulation and continuous evolution of deep-seated security imbalance in Europe. Only when parties concerned overcome their differences and sit down at the negotiation table, can a fundamental solution be found to end the war and rebuild the European security architecture. The path of peace talk is not a smooth one. But as long as we do not give up our efforts and demonstrate political determination and wisdom, starting from little and practical things, the prospect of peace will always be within reach. The international community, in particular countries with major influence on the current situation, should encourage Russia and Ukraine to engage in dialogue and help open the door to a political solution of the crisis. Escalating sanctions or providing weapons will only make it more difficult to turn the situation around and may even provoke larger scale confrontations, thus exacerbating and prolonging the conflict, which must be avoided at all costs.

Second, to spare no effort in alleviating the humanitarian crisis. The ongoing conflict and the cold winter have added to the humanitarian needs. Many people have to face the reality of shelling, lack of water and electricity, and family separation, while ushering in a new year. Parties to the conflict should effectively uphold international humanitarian law, take measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure from attacks, and make every effort to reduce the humanitarian consequences of the conflict. Continued international humanitarian assistance is indispensable to help conflict-affected people survive the winter. Now, it is imperative to help Ukraine repair damaged energy infrastructure as soon as possible, so that people can survive the winter, and avoid a larger scale humanitarian crisis. Russia’s 36-hour ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas allowed people to spend the holiday in peace and provided favorable conditions for the humanitarian agencies to deliver supplies, which should be welcomed. We hope in the future there will be more similar ceasefire initiatives, so as to create conditions for a comprehensive ceasefire.

Third, to eliminate nuclear security risks. The shelling around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has not ceased, and its safety and security has been a source of concern. According to the IAEA, all six reactors at the plant are down, and the last backup power line to guarantee the plant’s safety and security functions was damaged by shelling at the end of last December, with power transmission only resumed last week. This should not happen again. All military operations that could affect the safety and security of the nuclear power plant should be stopped immediately. China supports the IAEA in its continuous communication with Russia and Ukraine on the safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in order to reach a mutually acceptable and viable arrangement at an early date.

Fourth, to contain the spillover effects of the crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and other crises are reinforcing each other with devastating impact on the achievement of the SDGs. Developing countries are suffering from increasingly high inflation and debt burdens. And in last year alone, the number of people suffering from extreme poverty and severe hunger increased by several million. It should be noted that this is not simply about production and demand. The artificial disruption of global industrial chain and supply chain by unilateral sanctions cannot be ignored. Major developed countries should adopt responsible economic, monetary, and trade policies to avoid negative spillover effects that exacerbate the economic and livelihood difficulties of developing countries, not to mention using the world economy as a political tool or weapon, thereby undermining the hard-won momentum of recovery. The Black Sea Grain Initiative has brought hope to people in hunger. China welcomes the continued implementation of the Initiative, and encourages the UN Secretariat to make practical efforts in removing the obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizer.

Mr. President, 

The crisis in Ukraine has once again brought the world to a crossroads. As President Xi Jinping stated, whether to revert to the Cold War mentality and provoke division and confrontation, or to proceed from the common welfare of humanity and uphold equality, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation is a test of the wisdom of the international community and the reason of the humanity. Facts have proved that conflict, confrontation, containment, and decoupling are against the trend of the times, and therefore doomed to failure, while peace, development, and win-win cooperation are in line with the expectation of the people and the prevailing trend of the times. At the beginning of the new year, all parties should take new actions to actively open up new prospects for peace. China will continue to uphold an objective and impartial position, and make constructive efforts in its own way.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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