BEIJING: As Russia stepped up its military offensive in Ukraine, China on Tuesday said that Moscow's "legitimate security demands" ought to be taken seriously and properly addressed for a political settlement to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
Refusing to criticise Russia's military action, which has entered a decisive phase with thousands of Russian troops massed on the outskirts of Ukraine's capital Kyiv, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called for a "political settlement that accommodates both sides' legitimate security concerns, achieves common security in Europe and promotes Europe's lasting peace and stability".
Asked to elaborate, Wang said: "China believes that the security of one country should not come at the expense of the security of other countries, still less should regional security be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs".
Wang said the Cold War mentality should be discarded completely.
"The Cold War mentality should be discarded completely. The legitimate security concerns of all countries should be respected. Given NATO's five consecutive rounds of eastward expansion, Russia's legitimate security demands ought to be taken seriously and properly addressed," he said.
On the mounting casualties in Ukraine as a result of Russia's offensive, Wang said that the Ukraine issue has complex historical context and realistic factors.
"The Chinese side regrets the casualties. The current situation is not what we want to see. The top priority is for all parties to exercise necessary restraint to prevent the situation on the ground in Ukraine from deteriorating or even spiralling out of control," he said.
"The life and property safety of civilians should be effectively guaranteed, and in particular, large-scale humanitarian crises should be averted," Wang added.
To a question that casualties are mounting and over half a million people fled Ukraine and China is yet to call the Russian offensive an "invasion", Wang said: "We have no selfish interests on the Ukraine issue."
"China always decides its position based on the merits of the Ukraine issue itself".
On the US and EU sanctions against Russia, Wang reiterated that sanctions are not an effective solution to solve problems.
"It is China's consistent position that we oppose all illegal unilateral sanctions. China and Russia will continue to carry out normal trade cooperation following the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit," he said.
Meanwhile, China on Tuesday started emergency evacuation of its over 6,000 students from Ukraine.
"At present, Chinese citizens in Ukraine are heading to neighbouring countries of Ukraine in various ways", Wang said.
About 1,000 Chinese citizens in Ukraine have by far safely relocated, he said.
Chinese embassies in Ukraine's neighbouring countries including Moldova, Slovakia, Romania and Poland have found ways to evacuate Chinese compatriots in Ukraine, he said.