The Biden-Xi-Zelensky-Putin Peace Plan

China isn’t arming Russia, at least not yet, but it’s happily buying Russian oil and helping Russia bypass Western sanctions.
China isn’t arming Russia, at least not yet, but it’s happily buying Russian oil and helping Russia bypass Western sanctions. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
May 23, 2023

Earlier this month, Antony Blinken told D.C. grandee David Ignatius that the Biden administration was not averse to China playing a role in mediating the end of the war in Ukraine. “In principle, there’s nothing wrong with that if we have a country, whether it’s China or other countries that have significant influence, that are prepared to pursue a just and durable peace,” Blinken told Ignatius. “We would welcome that, and it’s certainly possible that China would have a role to play in that effort. And that could be very beneficial.”

As Ignatius noted, this notion is indeed being bandied about in Washington, both among people in the administration and those proximate to it. Ignatius also wrote that the administration was “weighing whether to work with China to seek a negotiated settlement.” But what I’ve heard is not exactly as sanguine as what Ignatius reports. It’s not as if the Biden White House is exactly champing at the bit to get China to broker a peace deal. The attitude is more that the White House wouldn’t be against China playing some kind of constructive role. As one senior State Department official put it when I asked them, “Yeah, if they’re serious, but we know they’re not serious.”