11/16/2022, 00.00
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G20 Bali: Beijing signs final declaration condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine

by Li Qiang

There are distinctions in the text, but it is the first time since the outbreak of the conflict that the Chinese have signed a document of this magnitude. The 'limitless' friendship between China and Russia seems less and less solid. Beijing calls for restraint after missile falls on Polish territory.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The leaders of the G20 member countries "deplore in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine."

 This is the key passage in the final declaration of the Bali summit, which closed two-days of talks between the heads of state and government of the world's 20 largest economies today. The statement came after Russia carpet-bombed several Ukrainian locations yesterday.

The most striking fact is that China (and Russia itself) also endorsed the document. Until now, the Chinese government had never signed an official position blaming the Russian attack on Ukraine. In these days of diplomatic meetings, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, first and foremost the achievement of a cease-fire, and has expressed opposition to the use of nuclear weapons in the Ukrainian theatre: no direct criticism, however, of the Kremlin.

The joint communiqué has some distinctions, without which China would not have given its assent. The text points out that 'e and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine. Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy." In another passage it is pointed out that there are 'other views and different assessments regarding the situation and sanctions [against Russia]'.

According to several analysts, the approval of the text represents a breakthrough, however, because in the end the G20 - including Russia and China - recognises Moscow as the aggressor and Kiev as the victim. The 'limitless' friendship flaunted by Xi and Putin on the eve of the Russian invasion seems less and less solid.

In a balancing act, Chinese diplomacy in Bali tried to break Russia's isolation. Yesterday in a face-to-face meeting with his Russian counterpart Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he appreciated Russia's position on nuclear weapons that "an atomic war cannot be won and should never be fought", according to Xinhua.

But even if it does not say so explicitly, Beijing fears the risks of a widening of the conflict. At today's press conference, in reference to the fall of a still unidentified missile on Polish territory yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that all sides should 'stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid the escalation of tension'.

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