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China to participate in Ukraine peace talks in Saudi Arabia

China to participate in Ukraine peace talks in Saudi Arabia

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China will send a team to Saudi-hosted Ukraine peace talks, the Chinese foreign ministry said Friday.

Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui will join leaders and representatives from more than 40 countries in Jeddah for a meeting on a possible pathway to peace for Ukraine. Dozens of countries, including the U.K., South Africa, Poland, the U.S. and the EU, have confirmed attendance at the talks

“China stands ready to work with the international community to continue to play a constructive role in seeking a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a statement.

A longtime ally of Russia, China did not participate in similar peace talks held in Copenhagen earlier in the year. Western diplomats reportedly said Saudi Arabia was picked to host this round of talks partly in hopes of persuading China — which has close ties to Saudi Arabia — to participate.

“It matters what China does. Most of the participants last time around regretted that China did not participate,” said one senior European official involved in preparations for the meeting, who was granted anonymity to speak freely.

Despite some countries showing skepticism at China’s attempt to enter a dialogue on peace in Ukraine, due to its lasting ties with the Kremlin and silence on condemning Putin’s actions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has remained open to a dialogue with Beijing. Zelenskyy said this week he sees the gathering as a step on the road toward a global peace summit, which he hopes will be held in the fall. 

Russia — which launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and continues to pound Ukraine with missile attacks — was not invited to the talks. The Kremlin said it would monitor the meeting.

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