China on Monday voted against a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which calls for Russia to be held accountable for the alleged "invasion" of Ukraine and suggests that Russia pay reparations for the loss during the military conflict. The Chinese envoy at the UNGA argued that the resolution has obvious flaws and loopholes, and is not in line with China's position on the issue.
"We understand the grief of the victims from the conflict and sympathize with their situation. China believes that remedies and reparations should be achieved through proper political channels and legal procedures, reflecting international will, fairness and justice," Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said on Monday.
Regrettably, he said, the draft resolution has some obvious flaws and loopholes. The General Assembly's insistence on pushing to act in haste without responding substantively to the concerns of member states is not at all constructive.
Geng outlined the reason for China's opposition. First, the draft resolution intended to go beyond the mandate of the General Assembly by directly addressing the issue of international legal responsibility. However, as defined in the UN Charter, the General Assembly is not an international judicial body and has no authority to pursue responsibility for wrongful acts.
Second, the resolution intended to invoke Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts for accountability but lacks a legal basis. What's more, the resolution intended to endorse the establishment of a mechanism for compensation by countries outside the framework of the United Nations, which is not in line with usual practice.
"The issue of remedies and reparations is of great importance. Those countries that had once been affected by wrongful acts such as colonialism, external intervention, unilateral sanctions and economic blockades have the right to seek redress," Geng said. "The action taken by the General Assembly today should help provide the right guidance for the future."
Experts said that one of the reasons that China opposed the resolution is because its true purpose is to incriminate Russia, in confirming the facts of Russia's aggression to Ukraine, Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"This is forcing countries to take sides, however, the fact is that the issue is still disputed in the international community," Cui said. "The West thinks it an 'invasion' but developing countries such as China and India remain skeptical about the concept."
"The most important point is that there is no precedent. If this logic is followed, should the US be held accountable for the previous series of military actions that caused harm to the relevant countries and people?"
The resolution passed on Monday with support from 94 of the assembly's 193 members. Some 14 countries, including Russia, China and Iran, voted against the resolution, while 73 abstained, including Brazil, India and South Africa, reported Al Jazeera.
It was the lowest level of support for the five Ukraine-related resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, the report said.
Having passed the resolution on Russia's reparations to Ukraine, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that "They should adopt the same recommendation on total reparation of the damage inflicted by the United States on Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia and many other countries that suffered from the Americans and NATO."
Otherwise, "it looks like the beginning of the United Nations' agony as a key international institution for reconciliation," he stressed. "The end will be painful for the entire international community. We will do without such a 'united nations' organization," he was cited as saying in a TASS report.
The crisis in Ukraine has dragged on for nearly nine months so far, causing a huge impact on the international community and bringing more uncertainty and instability to our already chaotic world, the Chinese envoy said.
The prolongation of the conflict is not in the interests of any party, and is particularly harmful to developing countries. China once again calls on all parties concerned to return to dialogue and return to the right track of political settlement.
The international community, including the General Assembly, should make positive efforts in this regard, instead of provoking confrontation, intensifying conflicts and exacerbating divisions, Geng noted.
The impartiality of the UNGA in dealing with Ukraine is questionable because now the West dominates the discourse, Cui said.
Passing such a resolution would greatly undermine the authority and credibility of the UNGA in the international community. More countries would see it as a mere political tool of the West, rather than a symbol of international justice, observers remarked.