Beijing’s special envoy for Eurasia will be in Kiev on Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry said. He will then continue his mission to Poland, France, Germany and Russia in “an effort to promote peace talks”.
Li Hui’s is the first mission by a high-level Chinese diplomat since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, with the Russian invasion that began on February 24 last year.
The mission had been announced by Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a telephone conversation on April 26 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but on that occasion – the first contact between the two since the beginning of the conflict – no date had been communicated for the visit. In recent months Beijing – which presented its peace initiative for Ukraine in February – has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to negotiations, but has also attracted considerable criticism for its support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Xi also met in March.
A past in Moscow stands out in Li Hui’s profile. He was the Chinese ambassador to Russia for ten years, from 2009 to 2019. In that year, he was awarded the Order of Friendship medal by Putin.
Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, in a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Goa in India, announced the willingness of the Chinese side to make a real contribution to resolving the Ukrainian crisis. This was reported by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “China will persistently promote peace talks. We are ready, through contacts and coordination with Russia, to make a real contribution to the political solution of the Ukrainian crisis,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry website said.