China Signals It May Skip Ukraine Conference in Switzerland

(Bloomberg) -- China signaled it may skip a conference on the war in Ukraine next month in Switzerland, raising more questions over how effective the event will be.

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“Clearly there is still a gap between the arrangements for the peace conference and China’s demands as well as the general expectations of the international community,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Friday at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

“It is difficult for China to attend the meeting, and China has informed our considerations and concerns to relevant parties,” she said.

The Swiss will host a conference June 15-16, and Russia isn’t among the invitees. China has said a peace conference should be recognized by both Russia and Ukraine. US President Joe Biden plans to skip the event, while China and Brazil are considering a rival initiative.

Read More: Ukraine’s Peace Project Is Dented by Rival Plan, Hollywood Cash

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is imploring leaders to attend but Moscow is trying to undermine participation of key powers.

Beijing has sought to portray itself as mostly neutral in the face of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, now into its third year. Yet it has established a deep alliance with Moscow as part of what Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin termed a “no limits” friendship before the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Trade between the two countries reached a record $240 billion in 2023.

Last month during a visit to Beijing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen threatened US sanctions any Chinese banks that aid Russia in its war.

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