Chinese peace versus American peace?

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By TADEU VALADARES*

China builds a platform of good intentions founded on obvious realism

After concluding the first and hurried reading of Beijing's position on how to provide a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis, the feeling that remains is that the text, relevant in itself, is much more important for the simple fact of being Chinese. Naturally, like all of us, I don't know if it will reach its objective in the short term, but it will certainly contribute in a strong way to promote a dynamic of peace, a demand that is already being felt all over the world, including (or above all?) in the interior itself of the various civil societies of advanced capitalist countries, in their perhaps changing relationship, as far as Ukraine is concerned, with the respective states, all of which are members of NATO.

As a summary 'to the devil' of the Chinese proposal in 12 points, I stress: (i) respect for the sovereignty of all countries , a basic principle of globally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations which, underlines the document, must be strictly fulfilled; (ii) the abandonment of the 'Cold War mentality' and the affirmation, on the other hand, of another mentality, the one that sees the security of each country as unattainable, if sought at the expense of the security of another(s); (iii) the urgent cessation of hostilities in the Ukrainian theater with a view to preventing the crisis from deteriorating further or getting out of control of the belligerent parties; (iv) the resumption of peace talks;

(v) the resolution of the resulting humanitarian crisis in line with the principles of neutrality and impartiality, humanitarian issues should not be politicized; (vi) the protection of civilians and prisoners of war in full compliance with the provisions of international humanitarian law; (vii) maintenance of the safety conditions of nuclear power plants, for which the norms of international law must be followed, including those established by the Convention on Nuclear Safety; (viii) the reduction of strategic risks, starting with the biggest one, the use of nuclear weapons or even the threat of using them. In this context, China underscores its opposition to the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons in any and all countries, whatever the circumstances.

(ix) The facilitation of grain exports via balanced implementation of the provisions agreed by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations. The document recalls the Chinese cooperation initiative for global food security, understood by Beijing as a viable solution to the food crisis that reaches planetary dimensions; (x) the cessation of unilateral sanctions, given that their imposition and resulting maximum pressures do not resolve the issue and create new problems. The text emphasizes that 'relevant countries' should stop abusively using unilateral sanctions and the so-called 'long arm' jurisdiction, without support in international law. Abandoning this feature would contribute to alleviating the Ukrainian crisis and create favorable conditions for developing countries and their peoples; (xi) the relevance of maintaining the global stability of industrial and supply chains; and (xii) the promotion of post-conflict reconstruction by the 'international community'. On that record, China would be ready to provide necessary assistance and thus play a constructive role.

In foreign offices in countries like Brazil, the 12 points will be read with precise lenses, turned inside out inside out. This is because each of the members of this small group of large countries, reasonably important in the global economy and with great weight in the respective regional environments, wants to play a real and autonomous role in building peace. Essentially, this is what leads them, therefore, to reject without fanfare the bellicose maximalisms of both parties, as well as to face 'in pectoris' with critical skepticism the opposing diplomatic formulations that serve Russia, Ukraine, NATO/USA and the European Union as a rhetorical and worn shield.

Diplomatic positions of the various contenders, formally negotiating, but, in practice, totally unrealistic. Sometimes more and sometimes less sophisticated formulations, all of them however indicating, in juridical-political-strategic-diplomatic language, the persistence of the disastrous hubris of total victory, the unrealizable dreams of complete triumph either Russia or Ukraine-NATO/USA.

Faced with this state of affairs, with its dynamics that has lasted since at least last February and, above all, with the risks inscribed in it of European and planetary catastrophe in the short and medium term, China is preparing a platform of good intentions, a mix of a lot of must – legal idealism in my view only apparent – ​​which calculatedly sustains and presents the central idea, founded on obvious realism. What he effectively proposes is what really matters most: a year after the war began, to boldly take advantage of the apparent arrival of the time of opportunity, the 'kairos' which generates a real opportunity to build eventual peace, the goal to be achieved in the pragmatic register. The first step, the acceptance of sustainable ceasefire. Either that or Europe and all of us will risk, at the limit, falling into the most complete economic-political disaster, something much worse than the débacle from the 1930s of the last century, the long road that turned out, Hiroshima and Nagasaki included…

In essence, it is a question of operationalizing a tidying brake that allows a reverse march in madness. But this welcome Chinese effort clearly takes into account the 'bad side of history': shortly after the start of the 'special military operation', the hypothesis of a Russian victory in a short time being overcome and the first Russian-Ukrainian negotiations The complex unfolding of the open geopolitical fracture in planetary capitalism in its most recent imperial-imperialist phase becomes much more evident.

The new stage of the economic, political and ideological power game on a world scale is so dramatic that it can even be called “globalization in trance and transit”. Globalization in a trance, yes, due to the war in Europe and the threats of a big war, in Asia, between the West and China, not to mention the strictly economic crisis that does not abandon us, that has been accompanying us since before, but also during and 'after' the pandemic. Globalization in marked transit, rearrangement/reform of the order, a process that is in a difficult and dangerous stage because the hegemonic imperial order/disorder is in crisis. The US looks increasingly declining. Its decay seems beyond remedy.

Instead, there is the emergence of another order not yet precisely defined, but which points to a new multipolarity, itself very harmonious with a strengthened multilateralism whose loci emblematic will continue (?) to be 'Onusian'. In other words, trance and transit as opposite and complementary sides of a tense process that is not oriented – although it favors the East… – by a precise map. Not even by artistic portolan. There is no clear itinerary, but almost all the signals issued throughout this century point to a trend in full operation: the arrival of another type of global order. Its cost, in terms of potentially much tougher conflicts than what is present in Ukraine, is now unpredictable. Thought that induces sobriety: the two previous transits of hegemony led, respectively, to the two world wars.

It is from this context that I read and interpreted the Chinese proposal. To see if the Beijing initiative, or a variant thereof, will come to fruition, which may or may not happen; but that, if it happens, only after the future 'realities in the military terrain' resulting from the great battle for Donbass and surroundings are known. This announced battle, this “ascension to a new extreme”, seems to be starting to be waged between Russia, at once aggressor and defensive, and the liberal-expansionist NATO/USA in hierarchical and subordinate articulation with its main pawn at the moment, the Ukraine of Volodymyr Zelensky.

* Tadeu Valadares he is a retired ambassador.

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