China's Subtle Boycott: Lobbying for Alternative Ukraine Peace Plan Amid Lucerne Summit

China's abstain from the Lucerne summit, promoting its own peace plan with Brazil, has sparked global diplomatic divisions over Ukraine, questioning the effectiveness of multilateral diplomacy.

China's Subtle Boycott: Lobbying for Alternative Ukraine Peace Plan Amid Lucerne Summit
Photo Source: Blue and Yellow Striped Country Flag, ,Max Kukurudziak via Unsplash. 2019 August 13


Marina Sáenz

Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence


Amidst escalating tensions over Ukraine, China's conspicuous absence from a pivotal peace summit in Lucerne has sparked international intrigue and diplomatic manoeuvring. While 90 states and organisations converge to endorse President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's peace initiatives, Beijing's decision to forgo the talks in favour of its own proposal has underscored its growing influence in global geopolitics. Critics decry China's move as a calculated snub, labelling it a "subtle boycott" aimed at bolstering its alignment with Russia. As the world watches, the stage is set for a showdown of diplomatic strategies and competing visions for Ukrainian peace, highlighting the complexities of international relations in an increasingly multipolar world.

China's decision not to attend the Lucerne summit, where discussions are centred on Ukraine's call for the withdrawal of Russian troops, reflects Beijing's strategic calculations amid its complex ties with Moscow and global stakeholders. The summit, gathering 90 states and organisations, represents a crucial diplomatic effort to garner support for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's peace proposals, which include comprehensive measures for Ukrainian sovereignty. However, China's absence, described by some as a "subtle boycott," underscores broader rifts in international diplomacy over Ukraine, exacerbated by Moscow's dismissal of the summit as futile. Beijing's alternative six-point peace plan, developed in collaboration with Brazil, advocates for a future international conference recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, highlighting China's ambition to shape global peace efforts independently. Critics argue that China's stance risks prolonging the conflict by sidestepping immediate multilateral solutions endorsed by Western allies and Ukraine. As the geopolitical landscape shifts, the absence of China, a significant global economic and political force, raises questions about the efficacy of international diplomacy in resolving regional conflicts and navigating increasingly polarised international relations.

The diplomatic dynamics surrounding China's absence from the Lucerne summit on Ukraine also raise significant legal and ethical considerations under international law. The United Nations Charter, particularly Article 2(4), emphasises the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, a principle reiterated in numerous international conventions and treaties. The Helsinki Final Act of 1975, under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), commits participating states to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of others and to settle disputes peacefully. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights affirm the right of peoples to self-determination and the right to live in peace, principles that underpin Ukraine's calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops. China's advocacy for an alternative peace plan, while within its sovereign rights, prompts scrutiny over adherence to these international norms and the broader implications for upholding multilateral efforts to resolve conflicts and uphold human rights on a global scale.

As the Lucerne summit unfolds amidst China's conspicuous absence and advocacy for an alternative peace initiative, the global community faces a critical juncture in addressing the Ukrainian crisis. The standoff highlights not only geopolitical divisions but also challenges in applying international law and human rights principles to resolve conflicts. The outcome will likely shape future diplomatic engagements and multilateral efforts in conflict resolution, underscoring the imperative for inclusive dialogue and adherence to established norms. Whether through the Lucerne summit or alternative frameworks proposed by major stakeholders like China, the path to peace in Ukraine hinges on navigating complex geopolitical realities while upholding the principles of sovereignty, self-determination, and international cooperation that are foundational to a stable and just global order.


Sources and further readings: 

Laurie Chen and Liz Lee. (14 June 2024). Exclusive: China pushes rival Ukraine peace plan before Swiss summit, diplomats say. Reuters.,the%20global%20meeting%20in%20Switzerland.