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China Tells Kyiv It ‘Regrets’ Conflict as Citizens Evacuated

Wang Yi told Dmytro Kuleba during a phone conversation that Beijing “deeply regrets that conflict has broken out between Ukraine and Russia”

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. File photo: AFP.


China’s foreign minister spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday and called for a resolution to the crisis through negotiation, state media said, as Beijing started evacuating its citizens from the conflict-hit country.

China has been walking a diplomatic tightrope on the Ukraine conflict, balancing its oft-repeated insistence on the sanctity of state sovereignty with an unwillingness to call out its close ally Russia.

Wang Yi told Dmytro Kuleba during a phone conversation that Beijing “deeply regrets that conflict has broken out between Ukraine and Russia, and is paying extreme attention to the harm suffered by civilians”, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

CCTV said the call took place at Ukraine’s request, and that Wang urged for the two countries to “find a way to resolve the issue through negotiations.”

“(China) supports all constructive international efforts that are conducive towards a political resolution,” Wang said. According to CCTV, Kuleba said Ukraine “looks forward to China opening mediations in order to realise a ceasefire”.

In 2020, China began a direct freight train service between Wuhan and Kyiv as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. This has been suspended due to the conflict. AFP photo.

China began evacuating its citizens from Ukraine as fears grow for their safety with anger reportedly rising among Ukrainians over Beijing’s refusal to condemn the Russian invasion.

One Chinese national was shot in the waist while travelling by road from eastern Ukraine to the western city of Lviv Tuesday, CCTV reported, adding that the person was receiving hospital treatment. No further details were given.

China has said around 6,000 of its citizens are in Ukraine for work or study. China’s foreign ministry said it was helping citizens leave the country but did not offer further details.

A group of around 600 students had fled Kyiv and the southern port city of Odessa on Monday, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.

They travelled by bus to neighbouring Moldova under an embassy escort and local police protection, with one evacuee saying the six-hour journey was “safe and smooth”.

An updated report said 700-800 Chinese nationals were evacuated by road to Moldova on Tuesday.

While countries including the US, Britain and Japan evacuated diplomats and urged citizens to leave in the weeks leading up to the invasion, China waited until Thursday to announce it would organise charter flights out.

But those flights have not yet materialised and Ukraine has now closed its airspace. The Chinese ambassador in a video message on Sunday denied he had fled Kyiv and said he was “waiting until it is safe” to evacuate.

Its embassy in Kyiv initially urged those planning to leave to fix a Chinese flag to their vehicles, but reversed course after unverified social media claims emerged of rising hostility towards Chinese citizens.



  • AFP, with additional editing by George Russell



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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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