Why silent on civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, China asks WestAnanth Krishnan
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended his country’s stance on the Ukraine issue amid growing concern over civilian casualties . File | Photo Credit: Reuters
MARCH 18, 2022 08:40 IST
China calls U.S., NATO and Western media ‘hypocritical’ over criticism of Beijing’s stand on UkraineChina has questioned the silence of the West on civilian casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while defending its stance on the Ukraine issue amid growing concern over civilian casualties as a result of the Russian invasion.
Asked about Beijing declining to explicitly oppose the Russian invasion and whether it agreed with U.S. President Joe Biden’s description of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal”, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said “the U.S., NATO and some Western media are very hypocritical.”
“I want to stress that China’s position on peace talks is consistent. You may refer to China’s statements on hotspot issues including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine and Israel,” he said. “When it comes to civilian casualties and humanitarian situation, I wonder if you were equally concerned about the people in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine. Do these civilians mean nothing to you? Do not forget Serbia in 1999, or Yugoslavia. Did you show any care about civilian casualties there? If not, then you are in no position to make accusations against China.”
China, like India, has abstained from U.N. resolutions criticising Russia. While it has said it supported Ukraine’s sovereignty, it also backed what it called Russia’s “legitimate security concerns”.
Asked if this balancing act had become increasingly uncomfortable amid mounting civilian casualties in Ukraine, Mr. Zhao responded, “Speaking of ‘uncomfortable’, it is those countries that delude themselves into thinking that they can lord it over the world after winning the Cold War, those that keep driving NATO’s eastward expansion five times in disregard of other countries’ security concerns, and those that wage wars across the globe while accusing other countries of being belligerent, that should really feel ‘uncomfortable’.”
“I learned that cats, dogs and trees in Russia will be sanctioned. I also heard that Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is axed. But Tchaikovsky was a famous composer, who died over 100 years ago. What faults can be found with him or his Swan Lake, a timeless masterpiece of ballet,” he asked.
“I have a few question for you to ponder. The U.S. claimed to defend peace by working on NATO’s five waves of eastward expansion. Is peace achieved? It said it were to prevent war in Europe. Is war averted?... The key to solving the Ukraine crisis is in the hands of the U.S. and NATO. We hope the U.S. and NATO, the culprits of the crisis, can reflect upon their roles in the Ukraine crisis.”