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Western officials pushed back against China's calls for an "immediate" ceasefire in Ukraine during the European tour of Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui, the Wall Street Journal reported on May 26.
Western officials told the Wall Street Journal that during his trips this May to Kyiv, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, and Brussels, Li pushed for an "immediate" ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.
However, freezing the conflict would essentially mean that occupied Ukrainian territories remain under Russian control. Li also allegedly spoke about the need to end the war in Ukraine "before it spreads."
"We explained that freezing the conflict is not in the interest of the international community unless there is (a) withdrawal of Russian troops," one diplomat who had met with Li said.
Western officials question China's ability to serve as an effective mediator in ending the war given its close ties to Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"They are probably testing the unity of the West and trying to show initiative," another diplomat said.
Li visited Ukraine on May 16-17 and met with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who conveyed to the Chinese envoy that Ukraine wouldn't accept any peace proposal that entertained the idea of territorial surrender or freezing of the conflict.
Li formerly served as China's ambassador to Russia and is the seniormost Chinese official to visit Ukraine since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion.
On the one-year anniversary of the invasion, China unveiled a 12-point peace plan that drew criticism from several of Ukraine's allies. The plan was faulted for its failure to explicitly demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.