A year has passed since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. It is clear that both sides are far from the negotiating table. On the one hand, media sources indicate that Russia may start a massive attack shortly. At the same time, the US has stated that it will back Ukraine until the bitter end, creating a complicated position.

China, which has an "unlimited friendship" with Russia, is trying to position itself in this complex situation.

China has long sought to remain neutral, but recent criticism and analogies with Taiwan suggest a balancing act in Chinese strategy.

The United States recently claimed that China provides military aid to Russia, including lethal weapons. China denied the allegations and issued a paper on the Ukrainian issue titled "China's Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis".

The document, dubbed "China's peace plan" in the media, has not received sufficient attention.

China issued a (5) point "text" on the issue last year. In that text, China defended Ukraine's territorial integrity but also stated that other countries "security concerns" should be considered and emphasised that Russia's legitimate concerns about NATO enlargement should be considered.

As you may recall, It is worth remembering that Xi and Putin met in Beijing early last year (4 Feb). Their joint statement was notable for saying that "both countries reject NATO enlargement and call on North Atlantic Alliance to abandon its ideological Cold War mentality".

The 12-article document published this year, "China's Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis” does not mention NATO but stresses that the Cold War mentality should be abandoned and the legitimate security concerns of all countries taken seriously.

The most striking point in the document is the call for a ceasefire to be established by both sides as soon as possible. In addition, the creation of humanitarian corridors to ensure the evacuation of civilians from the region and the warning that the nuclear option should be strictly avoided have also stood out as notable points.

It should be noted that the document includes wishes such as the importance of the Black Sea grain initiative, the lifting of unilateral sanctions and the maintenance of stability in supply chains.

The document did not have the expected effect. While the Ukrainians said the document was open to evaluation, the Russians said: 'We are studying our Chinese friends' plan very carefully'.

On the other hand, NATO Secretary Stoltenberg implied that there were some doubts marks on the European side: "NATO has no confidence in Beijing."

The US, on the other hand, described China's peace plan as an attempt to disrupt attention.

In essence, the document is a step towards balancing changes and transformations in China's foreign policy. While aligning with Russia, China is trying to develop a discourse that does not alienate Ukraine.

According to some estimates, the economic losses of Ukraine so far amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. China would want to play a role in rebuilding Ukraine once the war is over. Therefore, rhetoric that would alienate Ukraine would not help China.

With this document, China is trying to formalise its position on the Ukraine crisis while at the same time responding to US accusations of "helping Russia".

The key words here can be formulated as "sovereignty, territorial integrity, the principles of the UN and the legitimate security concerns of Russia".

Beijing is defining a long-term position and balancing its relations with Ukraine and Russia. The document also attempts to close the strategic gap with Europe, as European countries have recently adopted a similar discourse to the US on China and believe that China is becoming a threat.

On the other hand, there are also similarities established on Taiwan. This document also indicates China's position in case of a possible Taiwan intervention. The document's emphasis on respecting the legitimate security concerns of all countries and the emphasis on territorial integrity can be cited as examples.

The peace plan demonstrates China's attempt to buy time by remaining neutral. The recent development of relations with Russia and the growth in Iran's dependency on China are signs that China has developed an asymmetrical relationship of dependence with both countries.

China has no desire for confrontation with Russia. What is more, it will not allow Russia to be isolated as long as the issue of Taiwan is still burning. If Russia is left alone, this could lead to a conjuncture in which the West will concentrate with all its might on the issue of Taiwan.

The most significant and crucial geopolitical rupture of the current period is that China and Russia have entered an intense partnership. This rupture has been aggravated by the fact that the US political elites did not foresee it or did not care about it. Therefore, China is unlikely to alienate or allow Russia to do so.

Trade between China and Russia is estimated to be worth $200 billion. Over $1 trillion of trade occurs between it and the US and EU. China will so undoubtedly take this issue into account.

Due to this, the proposed peace plan is ineffective in ending current conflicts. It can also be seen as an expression of goodwill that aims to present an impartial viewpoint. By remaining neutral and striving to keep Russia on its side, China is aiming to minimise its losses.

Dr.Hüseyin Korkmaz. The author is a researcher focusing on China and geopolitics in the Asia, primarily related to the US-China relations.