Two Takeaways from Munich – an Initiative from China and the Antiwar Demonstration
In his speech at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, now the director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC, announced that Beijing would soon release a document setting out its position on resolving the Ukraine crisis through a political settlement, as well as a broader Global Security Initiative concept paper (cf. below). “Standing at a critical juncture of history, human society must not repeat the path of antagonism, division and confrontation, and must not fall into the trap of zero-sum game, war and conflict,” he said, in what was an unstated but unmistakable reference to the premises of Anglo-American policy.
China’s top diplomat appealed particularly to the Europeans to reverse the course of events and join hands with China to build a safer world together. “I suggest that everybody starts to think calmly, especially friends in Europe, about what kind of efforts we can make to stop this war,” said Wang. He also pointed out there were “some forces that seemingly don’t want negotiations to succeed, or for the war to end soon.” He reiterated President Xi Jinping’s call for a new Global Security Initiative.
Wang’s attendance in Munich was part of a Feb. 14-22 European tour, which had taken him to Italy and France, before heading to Hungary and then to Russia. One can assume that Beijing’s peace initiative was on the agenda in all of these capitals, in addition to trade relations.
An end to the war was also the theme of a a powerful rally that took place in Munich on Feb. 18, with over 10,000 activists demonstrating that the anti-war movement is back on the scene. Of special note was the presentation given by Karl Krökel, the head of the Master Craftsmen for Peace initiative, which has held out a number of rallies in east German cities since the autumn. At the time of German reunification in 1989, he pointed out, no one could have imagined that Germany and Europe would be facing a situation today in which fuses are being lit to a Third World War.
Right after the breakup of the Soviet Union, he had personally served on one of the economic round tables, in the Dessau area, to help develop plans for economic growth policies. He described how people in Dessau collected ammunition and weapons, arms metal and scrap, which were melted down and made into the Dessau peace bell, to remind everyone of how terrible war is. At that moment of history, people were convinced that the end of Cold War and the beginning of cooperation with Russia was within reach. But then, NATO expanded eastward and destroyed the security of Europe.
Today, Krökel went on, the economic crisis has plunged entire communities into despair. Nine out of 10 high-energy use companies are in trouble, while the sanctions against Russia are ruining the German economy, including in Schwedt, the home to the big refinery that received oil from the Friendship Pipeline from Russia. He also called for broad support for the Vatican’s recent offer to use the Vatican as the venue for peace talks over Ukraine.