A three-way video call March 8 with China’s President Xi Jinping and European leaders Francois Macron and Olaf Scholz raises the prospect of a diplomatic initiative that would have been unthinkable only weeks ago: China might mediate the Ukraine crisis, seizing the diplomatic high ground as a peacemaker.

For the past decade, China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, intervention in Hong Kong and border skirmishes with India have left it in relative diplomatic isolation. But the Ukraine crisis opens an opportunity for a diplomatic revolution that could position China as a peacemaker.

The tragic combination of American overreach and Russian overreaction has left the world in a diplomatic vacuum. By seeking to extend NATO to the Russian border, Washington persuaded Moscow that its objective was the strategic encirclement of Russia.