Special representative of the Chinese government, Li Hui, allegedly tried to convince the European vis-a-vis that they should call for a ceasefire in Ukraine, recognising the occupied Ukrainian territories as those belonging to Russia.
Source: The Wall Street Journal with reference to Western officials familiar with the progress of Li Hui's negotiations in European capitals
Quote from the WSJ: "The Chinese ambassador dispatched to push Beijing's peace plan for Ukraine carried a clear message: US allies in Europe should assert their autonomy and urge an immediate cease-fire, leaving Russia in possession of the parts of its smaller neighbour it now occupies, according to Western officials familiar talks in capitals across the continent."
Details: China's Foreign Ministry has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The mentioned officials said that Li Hui, who has visited Kyiv, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris and Brussels this month, urged European governments to view China as an economic alternative to Washington and said they should move quickly to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine before it spreads.
Li was supposed to arrive in Moscow on Friday, 26 May.
The officials, while saying it is too early to dismiss Beijing’s efforts, questioned China’s ability to act as an honest broker in any negotiations given how closely it is aligned with Moscow.
The officials said they didn’t think peace would be possible until Russian troops left Ukraine.
"We explained that freezing the conflict is not in the interest of the international community unless there is withdrawal of Russian troops," a diplomat who spoke to Li said.
According to the diplomat, Li was told that "it is impossible to split Europe from America" and that Europe would not stop supporting Ukraine.
"They are probably testing the unity of the West and trying to show initiative," another diplomat said.
According to another WSJ interlocutor, China’s main interests appeared to be to ensure that Russia doesn’t lose the war and that Moscow refrains from using nuclear weapons.
China's 12-point peace proposal, released in February, calls for a cease-fire and peace talks but offers few details. The first point of the declaration is "respecting the sovereignty of all countries", but it does not call on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
In March, Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Moscow and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking of friendship and "common goals."
The Biden administration, while foreseeing a role for China in an eventual negotiated settlement, has been sceptical of Beijing’s intentions as a peacemaker due to its close relationship with Moscow. The White House in March tried to head off an expected call from Beijing for a cease-fire, with a spokesman saying such a move would serve as "effectively the ratification of Russian conquest."
Europe is also broadly aligned with Washington in the view that no peace can be achieved in Ukraine without the withdrawal of Russian troops, and its governments are concerned by Xi’s ties with Putin.
According to the outlet, European diplomats said that during their meetings with Li, they tried to convey three key messages: China should continue to put pressure on Russia not to use nuclear weapons, not to provide military aid to Russia and to condemn Moscow's aggression. They also asked Li to support international efforts to secure the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russia had seized.
Li, Beijing’s special representative on Eurasian affairs and a former Chinese ambassador to Russia, has visited Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Belgium, the seat of European Union institutions and NATO.
Diplomats from several of those countries said they coordinated closely to make sure Li got the same message from European allies.
Reminder: In Kyiv, Li Hui told President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy that "there is no panacea for solving this crisis, but all parties need to start from themselves, build mutual trust and create conditions for ending the war and negotiations".