Why Biden Snubbed China’s Ukraine Peace Plan

Yves here. CODEPINK is attempting to raise the alarms over US warmongering, now with China. CODEPINK sent two protestors to the newly-formed China-bashing Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, whose first meeting depicted the US and China as engaged in “an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century.” The CODEPINK representatives, with their message of “China is not the enemy” were quickly ushered out.

One has to wonder if the CODEPINK authors are reflecting a change in the zeitgeist, at least outside the US. Heretofore, articles co-authored by Medea Benjamin on the Ukraine conflict have been largely critical of Russia while taking the realist stance of needing to make concessions to save lives. This piece calls out the US threats to Russia’s security and the cost of Western sanctions on countries all over the world. I wonder if the change in stance is the result of the Munich Security Conference, where US/NATO efforts to rally support for their opposition to Russia backfired. The new invitees from the so-called Global South complained that the war was diverting resources and attention from far more pressing needs, like global warming and hunger.

China may be waiting for the ripples of its peace ploy to settle down before it makes another move. However, the intensity of the Western reaction reveals the US as threatened by the prospect of China inserting itself into the debate, and even worse, a resolution to the conflict.

China could play up sanctions, and say that the West’s economic war on Russia has turned completely uninvolved nations into participants, escalating it well beyond its natural European boundaries. I am sure that will go over well.

By Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK, and author of several books, including War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict; Marcy Winograd serves as Co-Chair of the Peace in Ukraine Coalition, which calls for a ceasefire, diplomacy and an end to weapons shipments that escalate the war in Ukraine; and Wei Yu is the China Is Not Our Enemy campaign coordinator for CODEPINK

There’s something irrational about President Biden’s knee-jerk dismissal of China’s 12-point peace proposal titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.”

“Not rational” is how Biden described the plan that calls for de-escalation toward a ceasefire, respect for national sovereignty, establishment of humanitarian corridors and resumption of peace talks.

“Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis,” reads the plan. “All efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be encouraged and supported.”

Biden turned thumbs down.

“I’ve seen nothing in the plan that would indicate that there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia if the Chinese plan were followed,” Biden told the press.

In a brutal conflict that has left thousands of dead Ukrainian civilians, hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers, eight million Ukrainians displaced from their homes, contamination of land, air and water, increased greenhouse gasses and disruption of the global food supply, China’s call for de-escalation would surely benefit someone in Ukraine.

Other points in China’s plan, which is really more a set of principles rather than a detailed proposal, call for protection for prisoners of war, cessation of attacks on civilians, safeguards for nuclear power plants and facilitation of grain exports.

“The idea that China is going to be negotiating the outcome of a war that’s a totally unjust war for Ukraine is just not rational,” said Biden.

Instead of engaging China–a country of 1.5 billion people, the world’s largest exporter, the owner of a trillion dollars in US debt and an industrial giant–in negotiating an end to the crisis in Ukraine, the Biden administration prefers to wag its finger and bark at China, warning it not to arm Russia in the conflict.

Psychologists might call this finger-wagging projection–the old pot calling the kettle black routine. It is the US, not China, that is fueling the conflict with at least $45 billion dollars in ammunition, drones, tanks and rockets in a proxy war that risks–with one miscalculation–turning the world to ash in a nuclear holocaust.

It is the US, not China, that has provoked this crisis by encouraging Ukraine to join NATO, a hostile military alliance that targets Russia in mock nuclear strikes, and by backing a 2014 coup of Ukraine’s democratically elected Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych, thus triggering a civil war between Ukrainian nationalists and ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, regions Russia has more recently annexed.

Biden’s sour attitude toward the Chinese peace framework hardly comes as a surprise. After all, even former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett candidly acknowledged in a five-hour interview on YouTube that it was the West that last March blocked a near-peace deal he had mediated between Ukraine and Russia.

Why did the US block a peace deal? Why won’t President Biden provide a serious response to the Chinese peace plan, let alone engage the Chinese at a negotiating table?

President Biden and his coterie of neo-conservatives, among them Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, have no interest in peace if it means the US concedes hegemonic power to a multi-polar world untethered from the all-mighty dollar.

What may have gotten Biden unnerved—besides the possibility that China might emerge the hero in this bloody saga—is China’s call for the lifting of unilateral sanctions. The US imposes unilateral sanctions on officials and companies from Russia, China and Iran. It imposes sanctions on whole countries, too, like Cuba, where a cruel 60-year embargo, plus assignment to the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, made it difficult for Cuba to obtain syringes to administer its own vaccines during the COVID pandemic. Oh, and let’s not forget Syria, where after an earthquake killed tens of thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless, the country struggles to receive medicine and blankets due to US sanctions that discourage humanitarian aid workers fromoperating inside Syria.

Despite China’s insistence it is not considering weapons shipments to Russia, Reuters reports the Biden administration is taking the pulse of G-7 countries to see if they would approve new sanctions against China if that country provides Russia with military support.

The idea that China could play a positive role was also dismissed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said, “China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

Ditto from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told ABC’s Good Morning America, “China has been trying to have it both ways: It’s on the one hand trying to present itself publicly as neutral and seeking peace, while at the same time it is talking up Russia’s false narrative about the war.”

False narrative or different perspective?

In August of 2022, China’s ambassador to Moscow charged that the United States was the “main instigator”of the Ukraine war, provoking Russia with NATO expansion to Russia’s borders.

This is not an uncommon perspective and is one shared by economist Jeffrey Sachs who, in a February 25, 2023  video directed at thousands of anti-war protesters in Berlin, said the war in Ukraine did not start a year ago, but nine years ago when the US backed the coup that overthrew Yanukovych after he preferred Russia’s loan terms to the European Union’s offer.

Shortly after China released its peace framework, the Kremlin responded cautiously, lauding the Chinese effort to help but adding that the details “need to be painstakingly analyzed taking into account the interests of all the different sides.” As for Ukraine, President Zelinsky hopes to meet soon with Chinese President Xi Jinping to explore China’s peace proposal and dissuade China from supplying weapons to Russia.

The peace proposal garnered more positive response from countries neighboring the warring states. Putin’s ally in Belarus, leader Alexander Lukashenko, said his country “fully supports” the Beijing plan. Kazakhstan approved of China’s peace framework in a statement describing it as “worthy of support.” Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán–who wants his country to stay out of the war– also showed support for the proposal.

China’s call for a peaceful solution stands in stark contrast to US warmongering this past year, when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a former Raytheon board member, said the US aims to weaken Russia, presumably for regime change–a strategy that failed miserably in Afghanistan where a near 20-year US occupation left the country broke and starving.

China’s support for de-escalation is consistent with its long-standing opposition to US/NATO expansion, now extending into the Pacific with hundreds of US bases encircling China, including a new base in Guam to house 5,000 marines. From China’s perspective, US militarism jeopardizes the peaceful reunification of the People’s Republic of China with its break-away province of Taiwan. For China, Taiwan is unfinished business, left over from the civil war 70 years ago.

In provocations reminiscent of US meddling in Ukraine, a hawkish Congress last year approved $10 billion in weapons and military training for Taiwan, while House leader Nancy Pelosi flew to Taipei – over protestsfrom her constituents–to whip up tension in a move that brought US-China climate cooperation to a halt.

A US willingness to work with China on a peace plan for Ukraine might not only help stop the daily loss of lives in Ukraine and prevent a nuclear confrontation, but also pave the way for cooperation with China on all kinds of other issues–from medicine to education to climate–that would benefit the entire globe.

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  1. GramSci

    Yes, one hopes the zeitgeist is changing. The WSJ even dropped its paywall in desperation lest us proles not get their memo (Yves’ link) on the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party:

    “We may call this a ‘strategic competition,’” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, opening the hearing. “But this is not a polite tennis match. This is an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century, and the most fundamental freedoms are at stake.”

    1. Questa Nota

      All that rapprochement, WTO action and other Sinophilic behavior in DC didn’t seem to have much strategy behind it.

      Hey, guys. Lets open up China and make the world safer with one less Commie regime. Bonus, we get a huuuuge market for US goods.

      Sadly, not much deeper than that, with zero consideration of, say, agency of 1+Billion people or at least their leaders.

    2. clarky90

      Re “Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States (Communist Party) and the Chinese Communist Party:”

      This could be understood as a continuation of the bloody, struggle between the Neo-Stalinists (USA Communist Party (the Dems)) and the Neo-Trotskyites (China Communist Party). Witness the Neo-NKVD (USA Alphabets Agencies) stalking the World with their “ice-axes” in hand….

      yikes! There is no feud more awful than a family feud.

  2. The Rev Kev

    I heard a few hours ago that the US refused to meet with their Chinese counterparts. That was so bizarre that but then I reflected that the west is also refusing to meet with their Russian counterparts. I came across a video of an interview on stage with this Indian dude and Lavrov earlier. And Lavrov was relating that in the day’s general meeting with the members of the G-20 the previous day, that the western nations were shouting at him with their microphones about stuff like demands that Russia leave the Ukraine. I can only imagine what the rest of the diplomats were thinking about with this demonstration of Mean Girls diplomacy. Have they no dignity or gravitas? But wait, there’s more. So Blinken was claiming in the few minutes that they met, that he brought up the subject of the captured American spy. Not hearing about this, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked Lavrov about that and he said that the subject never came up So Blinken was out and out lying. The Chinese of course will be drawing their own conclusions about what it will be like for them to negotiate with the west.

    1. paddy

      the usa is agreement averse, they have not supported either minsk accord and used the time to arm…..

      why talk to a president who spouts less than factual propaganda?

      at least usa has no mean tweets and no one threatening to withhold the lethal gifts from elensky!

    2. AG

      as to behavioural extravaganzas –

      sitting in Germany I can only hold my breath looking at the jingoist madness and complete lack of respect for others, double-standards and criminal hipocrisy of those called the intellectual class.

      I have to stress Noam Chomky´s age-old assessment that it most often is this very priviledged class than not who fails the test over and over and over again.

      German prominent left politician Sarah Wagenknecht from THE LEFT PARTY will eventually retire from politics or possibly found a new party – we will see.

      At least she announced that she would not run for office in the party again.

      Berliner Zeitung today:

      This reminds me of Labour killing Corbyn.

      And while doing that they are seconded by “intellectuals” – all the while copying the very same brutal enmity displayed by diplomats who put their profession to shame on the international stage.

    3. some guy

      Well . . . . either Blinken or Lavrov was lying about the captive American coming up or not. And since I was not there, I will never know.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Would that it were a change in the spirit of the times. I suspect that Medea Benjamin, one of the great moral leaders of our time, doesn’t have enough visibility to change the spirit of the times. I note that the other authors are in charge of a campaign to bring the Ukraine war to the negotiating table and to tamp down the current warmongering about China.

    The spirit of the times seems to be mainly lying, panic, and arrogance. In short, McCarthyism, which as we all know, was bipartisan till McCarthy went after the wrong people–the army.

    Look at this moniker: Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party

    It won’t be long before one of the Patriots (= Scoundrels) on the committee starts waving a sheet of paper with a spreadsheet of the disloyal.

    Using the communist party of China as a stand-in for China is typical of McCarthyism and also part of the braying ignorance of U.S. politics.

    I note that Benjamin, Winogrand, and Wei use the same metaphor that Pope Francesco has: “barking” at China. His was “baying at the doors of Moscow.” Note their mention of Jeffrey Sachs. I suspect that once they got over the aggressore/aggredito distinction, as have many Italian writers who started taking the long view, the authors of this post had to start altering their views. (e.g., Who is truly the aggressor in the Donbass?)

    Is this a change in the zeitgeist? No. War, baroque religious beliefs, greed, and plagues are the spirits of the time. Pollution bombs are for the little people, not for the great ones of Washington, Wall Street, and Hollywood (which represents the zeitgeist, diligently).

    Until the Pale Horseman is seen cantering up the Capitol steps, little will change in the U.S. of A. among the politicians or the elites. Right now, what is going on the U. S. of A. is much too profitable and accrues too much power too easily to these hollow men and women.

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    Besides the immediate concerns, I think the “End of History” is part of this. Biden and Europe especially Rumsfeld’s “New Europe” and the decrepit UK saw themselves as a rightful union of the rulers of the world and through gross incompetence and malfeasance, they are all going to be the people who destroyed the empire without a Plague of Justinian style event (cover is bad but not that bad yet). Then people like Ursula von der Leyen have openend themselves to prosecution, and the won’t have their heroic efforts or general prosperity to shield them from prosecution.

    Biden, especially, has been a proponent of the policies that have weakened the US. Free trade, mass incarceration, byzantine structures removing benefits from citizens, gross militarization, and so forth. He announced “America is back” after the Trump interregnum, but Senator Biden inherited a great empire. He spent decades dismantling it. Letting the Chinese, the spectre used to force fussy children into eating vegetables, take a leadership position is the ultimate acknowledgement of the decay of the US.

    I think countries like India and Turkey are pointing out the US doesn’t hike leverage or moral leadership anymore, and it’s starting to get through. I can see Biden sending out the exact same proposal within a month as the Chinese and claiming it as his. Euro elites are learning they aren’t beloved world wide because they can speak two European languages, and their plans to receive cheap resources for the occasional BMW wasn’t the best plan.

  5. LadyXoc

    US reaction to China’s core interest of stability and end to war shows US/NATO true colors where true aim of “Ukraine War” is to bleed Russia dry and weaken it to a state where it’s bones can be picked by western capitalists. Only possible explanation of current mad course of west.

  6. Steven

    What is to be done:

    President Biden and his coterie of neo-conservatives, among them Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, have no interest in peace if it means the US concedes hegemonic power to a multi-polar world untethered from the all-mighty dollar.

    The rest of the world needs to stop accepting the US dollar. The ability of the US and increasingly other European nations to pay their way in the world with ‘debt that can’t be repaid and won’t be’ is the golden rule that underpins the “rules-based order” for which Western politicians and bankers are always clamoring. Only when not just the country’s billionaires but all of us who thought our 401ks would protect us from the vicious policies US leaders have inflicted on the less fortunate will people realize large bank accounts won’t protect them from the consequences of immoral and unsustainable policies.

  7. KD

    A US willingness to work with China on a peace plan for Ukraine might not only help stop the daily loss of lives in Ukraine and prevent a nuclear confrontation, but also pave the way for cooperation with China on all kinds of other issues–from medicine to education to climate–that would benefit the entire globe.

    A feature, not a bug. The US doesn’t want peace in Ukraine, and the last thing they want is China exerting diplomatic influence in a European conflict. “Cooperation with China” in DC means China doing what they are told, why can’t you be more like the Germans?

    More related to the Taiwan article, but if Ukraine gets clobbered hard, with or without China, it probably has implications for Taiwan’s willingness to sign up as the next Ukraine.

  8. Adam Eran

    Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen it yet, Trump’s pitch for the presidency is now saying “I will deliver peace.”

    So…the ultimate result of politics American-style is the left-leaning war party vs. the right-leaning peace party.

    “If voting made the slightest difference they’d outlaw it” – said some wag somewhere. Amen, brother wag.

    1. some guy

      Well, they’ve been trying to outlaw it for some people. So they must think that some certain people voting makes enough of a slightest difference to where they will try to outlaw some certain people from voting.

      If you are among those groups of people targeted for special voter prevention, be proud.

  9. Cetra Ess

    It’s such an interesting dynamic – the so-called “Leader of the Free World”, the country the world has (until now) tended to associate with democratic freedom, demonstrates no understanding of the fundamentals of either democracy or freedom, has come to only understand war, force and coercion, is shunning the role of the UN which it helped create, is adverse to diplomacy or building shared understanding, only understands power projection, sees peace as an obstacle to its own power.

    Meanwhile, the countries which have recently come out from under dictatorships have a greater understanding of power, how it relates to freedom, multilateralism and peace, and view force, violence and coercion as net negatives, to be avoided, are embracing the UN.

    Quite the reversal of poles. The US is now clearly the axis of evil.

    1. KD

      The US is now clearly the axis of evil.

      I disagree. True malevolence requires premeditation, planning and action. I don’t think bumbling around, taking payoffs from the MIC, sucking up to a random assortment of ethnic lobbies, and posturing to look “tough” in the MSM gets you there. Its more like a movie wherein Tammany Hall is inflicted with lycanthropy.

      1. Cetra Ess

        Agree it’s bumbling around but I would argue evil doesn’t necessarily require premediation, planning, but I would also argue this IS premeditated and planned.

        There is malevolence behind the rather overt Sinophobia and Russophobia, this coalesces and manifests in the concrete ways we are seeing. The Rand proposal for the destruction of Russia is the game plan and is currently being actioned. Similar plans have been put into action for the destruction of other countries, the US plan is always some variation of using military means to revert a country “back to the stone age”.

        Also, the last time we saw a desire for world dominance it was Hitler and the Third Reich. This here is the latest continuation of the US attempting world domination.

        1. paddy

          shunning a moral code allowing crimes against humanity is premedication.

          nazi holocaust was seen as duty….. no premeditation needed to hang evil men

  10. Susan the other

    Very interesting. China’s peace plan is actually quite detailed for a proposal. In the old days of Indochina, China submitted four or five basic demands like no more interference in sovereign politics, no incitement to revolution, no land grabs. They methodically submitted their proposals to Geneva where they received open consideration by a world forum, etc. Biden’s refusal to consider seriously China’s plan is probably evidence of his panic. He can’t win. But the last thing Biden wants is China having political influence in the very place he intended to create a currency curtain against Eurasian cooperation. Something tells me Xi is all smiles on this one.

  11. Ashburn

    The Biden regime is surely the most reckless presidency in my lifetime. Even presidents Nixon and Reagan had the good sense to negotiate detente and the reduction of nuclear forces with the far more threatening Soviet Union, and led to significantly reduced tensions with China by agreeing to the ‘One China’ policy over Taiwan.

    Biden, on the other hand, has managed to start an actual war with Russia, beginning with his role in the 2014 Ukraine coup, while ratcheting up tensions with nuclear-armed China, and essentially abandoning our previously agreed upon One China policy. Add to this his failure to reinstate the JCPOA with Iran, while allowing Israel to carry out sabotage and assassinations against Iranian targets. The reckless sabotage of the Nordstream II pipeline along with sabotaging any peace talks over Ukraine is simply madness.

    What I find unfathomable is the fact that no one in Congress, even among Republicans, or anyone in the MSM is calling out this insanity and demanding his removal from office. Trump was impeached for making a phone call to the president of Ukraine, yet Biden is treated as some well meaning, if enfeebled, elder statesman. Perhaps a decisive Russian victory in Ukraine will induce some rethinking of our current trajectory but that seems to be a rather faint hope.

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