China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that a peace summit for Ukraine held at the weekend in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, had created a “consensus”, stating that Beijing would remain “impartial” on the conflict and seek further talks to end the war.
Li Hui, China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs who also served as the country’s ambassador to Russia, said that all sides in the talks were moving towards “consensus” on the conflict, which has raged for 18 months.
Russia did not attend the summit, calling it “a reflection of the West's attempt to continue futile, doomed efforts” to unite more countries behind Kyiv.
India, the US and European countries – 40 nations in total – attended the talks, which Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak claimed were a “huge blow” to Russia.
Mr Li said Beijing “had extensive contact and communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis” and had “listened to all sides' opinions and proposals”.
China has long been a key ally of Russia and was one of its largest trading partners, with bilateral trade between the two countries reaching $70 billion in the year before the war.
But Beijing has also emerged as a top importer of Ukrainian agricultural products, importing about 8 million tonnes of produce from Kyiv since a UN-brokered deal to allow safe exports of food through the Black Sea in July 2022.
In total, the deal saw about 33 million tonnes of grain exported safely to global markets from Ukrainian ports until it ended last month after Russia said it would no longer support the agreement due to sanctions on its agricultural bank.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in a phone conversation on Monday that Beijing would uphold an independent and impartial position on Ukraine as it strives to find a political settlement to the issue.
Mr Wang's comments to Mr Lavrov were announced in a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on Monday that said China would be an “objective and rational voice” at any international multilateral forums and “actively promote peace talks”.