By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
President David Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia on Monday asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to back up calls for a ceasefire and Russia's pullout from Ukraine.
"I believe now is the appropriate time for the People’s Republic of China to demonstrate its global leadership by calling on the Russian Federation to cease hostilities and withdraw from Ukraine," Panuelo said in a letter to Xi.
The FSM, which is affiliated with the United States through the Compact of Free Association, is one of Beijing's closest allies in the Pacific region.
"While I worry that the Russians and Americans will not listen to each other, I am convinced that both of them would listen to China, and I also believe that China taking on this leadership role would be in the interest of both the Federated States of Micronesia and the global community of nations," Panuelo said.
While declining to join in the West-led sanction against Russia, China has refused to condemn Moscow's assault on Ukraine.
"Speaking personally and frankly, of all the reasons I do not like Russia’s war in Ukraine it is because it suggests that war between countries is something that can still happen today," Panuelo said. "It would be my preference that all countries embrace peace."
The FSM has severed its diplomatic ties with Moscow "to demonstrate our firm protest of the Russian Federation’s unnecessary war and invasion of Ukraine," Panuelo said.
"It is increasingly clear to the Federated States of Micronesia that the Russian Federation—perhaps due to its historical and ideological differences with the United States of America and its partners— has no interest in ending its war in Ukraine any time soon, despite increasing pressure from the U.S. and Europe," Panuelo said.
" The Chinese, as paragon examples of peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity, I believe can and should rise to the occasion to call for the cessation of hostilities," Panuelo said.
Beijing's neutral position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict has drawn criticisms from Western leaders, who perceive such a stance as an expression of China's support of Moscow.
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"Despite all the bravado about a close-knit brotherhood between China and Russia, Beijing has shown no enthusiasm for rescuing Moscow with any tangible economic lifelines," Danil Bochkov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council, wrote in The Diplomat.
"At the same time, China has also refused to turn its back on Moscow or bend under the threats of secondary sanctions from the United States. China does not like to be ordered around, and as Politburo member Yang Jiechi said during his meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, any attempts to pressure China would fail."