We translate a statement by five prominent Chinese professors that went viral on Chinese social media before being banned by the authorities. These statements are normal elsewhere, but in China they risk their careers.
by Bitter Winter
The war began in the dark.
In the early morning of February 22, 2022 (Chinese time: it was the evening of the 21 according to local time in Moscow), Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order announcing the recognition of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk and Peoples Republic of Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine as independent countries. Then, on February 24, the Russian sea, land, and air forces were dispatched to launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The international community was shocked that a member of the Security Council of the United Nations, a large country with nuclear weapons, would fight against a weak and a sister country. Where is the war going? Will it lead to a massive world war? Great disasters in history often stem from local conflicts. The international public opinion is worried.
Over the past few days, the Internet has broadcast live coverage of the battles: the ruins, the sound of cannons, and the wounds of the refugees in Ukraine have moved us deeply. We are a country that was once ravaged by wars, where families were destroyed, people died of starvation, were deprived of their land, and had to pay indemnities to foreign powers. These hardships and shame have created our historical consciousness, and we sympathize with the pain of the Ukrainian people.
Over the past few days, anti-war voices have been heard everywhere. The Ukrainian people are up, an old Ukrainian mother is scolding the uninvited guests, an old Ukrainian father is complaining about the evil of the war, and a 9-year-old Ukrainian girl calls for peace with tears. The Russian people rose up, in Moscow, in St. Petersburg, in other cities, citizens took to the streets, scholars signed anti-war statements. The voices calling for peace and condemning the war cross the borders, and are shocking.
Over the past few days, we have been closely following the development of the situation, thinking about the past and thinking about the future. In the midst of all the noise, we felt the need to make our voices heard.
We, strongly oppose Russia’s war on Ukraine. Regardless of Russia’s thousands of claims and all kinds of excuses, the use of force to invade a sovereign country is a violation of the norms of international relations based on the United Nations Charter, and a breach of the existing international security system.
We firmly support the actions of the Ukrainian people to defend their country. We are concerned that Russia’s acts of force will lead to turmoil in Europe and the entire world, and trigger wider humanitarian disasters.
We strongly call on the Russian government and President Putin to stop the war and resolve disputes through negotiations. Power will not only destroy the achievements of civilization and the principles of international justice, but also bring enormous shame and disaster to the Russian nation. Peace begins with the desire of the heart. We are against unjust wars.
Sun Jiang Professor of Nanjing University
Wang Lixin Professor of Peking University
Xu Guoqi Professor at the University of Hong Kong
Zhong Weimin Professor at Tsinghua University
Chen Yan Professor of Fudan University