One of the main issues that have characterised the various demonstrations for peace in Ukraine, which have taken place in many parts of the world over the last few days and which Pressenza has tried to report on, has been the need for a ceasefire and a move to serious diplomatic intervention.

Several have reminded us that the art of diplomacy is to talk to the enemy, not to force him to surrender, the prerogative of those who think that the war will end with the victory of one side over the other.

In this sense, the 12-point plan presented by China in recent days is, barring a denial, the only plan that proposes a diplomatic solution based on principles such as territorial integrity, protection of civilians, humanitarian aid and ceasefire as a prerequisite for dialogue, which are universally recognised and cornerstones of diplomacy.

So, it seems somewhat curious that the response of many Western actors (NATO, US, EU) immediately dismissed the plan as a “non-plan”; those same actors who have only military response and sanctions against Russia as their proposal. Even more curious is the fact that Zelensky himself praised the attempt before being contradicted by hawks in his government and the NATO Secretary General.

The Chinese plan is criticised because it does not condemn the Russian invasion of a year ago; but, being a proposal based on diplomacy, it requests a ceasefire, assurances not to endanger nuclear power plants, immediate assistance to the populations and condemnation of the civilians involved in the conflict: all this sounds, in the language of diplomacy, like a strong condemnation of the invasion because otherwise these points would not even be mentioned. If anyone does not know or does not want to read between the lines, the hypocrisy of those who want war while pretending to want peace is easily revealed.

There is the transversal party of war which includes a series of interests linked directly or indirectly to the military and energy industries and which transcends classic geopolitical borders, finally reaching, as always, the interests of financial speculation which plays indifferently at the arms tables, at the energy table, but also already bets on lucrative reconstruction: it is a party that unites explicit and implicit realities which, in the media, compete to play “enemies” but are ready to sign agreements for their common good, which is called profit. It is a strong party, but it is losing pieces because from many sectors there is a consciousness that this state of permanent destabilisation that has been looming from the pandemic onwards is not even functional for the maintenance of an apparent state of wellbeing in some, few, parts of the world. The question is: how long can we go on unsettling the world’s population, especially those on the brink, without some kind of response?

The Chinese have long publicly stated that war is an obstacle to their main interest, which is multilateral trade. China overcame the Covid crisis by maintaining a leading position in the world economy, despite all the Western analysts’ doom-mongering. Pragmatically (they are not communists, they are Confucians), China is rapidly correcting the mistakes of a policy of unbridled industrial expansion with state interventions in favour of greater ecological balance, while the West remains anchored in business as usual, making the ecological transition just big business, avoiding addressing the underlying problems that affect the very model of “development” of Western societies. And in this model, violence is intrinsic and justified, beyond the “do-gooder” proclamations: economic violence in the first place, but also that of supposed intellectual superiority, discrimination and contempt for other cultures and peoples, the macho violence that permeates white supremacism, authoritarianism.

China has now moved its chips to limit the damage of a war that, first and foremost, harms it economically directly (Ukraine was a good market) and indirectly.

Indeed, it is worth remembering that the Chinese have not been waging war against anyone for quite some time and that even their indirect interventions in certain post-war crises have been well thought-out and have enabled substantial peace to be maintained in Asia; the same cannot be said of the Western powers, especially the United States, with its penchant for interventionism “in the name of democracy”.

In short, it seems to us that the Chinese plan reiterates with force and authority what the world’s non-violent advocates say: ceasefire, stop the escalation of arms, come to the aid of the populations and avert the atomic threat, whether it comes from an accident or from nuclear war itself. On this last point, we would ask the Chinese government to make a new effort to ratify the goodness of its intentions: accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This would be a concrete way of responding to those who say that the peace plan is just propaganda.

In any case, the loophole opened up by the Chinese peace plan, whatever its outcome, should be an opportunity for pacifists to say that diplomacy is the only way out, and for the non-violent to assert forcefully that the paths of conscientious objection, of non-violent popular defence, of non-collaboration with violence are ways to practice, know and explore, as well as the only fundamental solution to the madness we are living through.