Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Dazhi Image / Associated Press (file photo)
Russia has suffered repeated setbacks when it took advantage of its superior military power to invade Ukraine. The international concern is whether China’s friendly stance towards Russia has changed. Even if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy more troops to Ukraine and even the nuclear threat put pressure on Moscow and Beijing’s “endless” partnership, it seems unlikely that Chinese President Xi Jinping will abandon the “endless” partnership. old friend.”
According to Reuters, China refused to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, calling for dialogue and a peaceful solution to the problem. Experts say China will persevere despite its awkward stance. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that China would stick to an “objective” and “fair” stance.
Mistrust of the West has tied Xi Jinping and Putin together, and the two dictators have grown closer in recent years. The two sides reaffirmed their partnership only days before Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. But at the same time, Beijing has also been careful not to be found to have provided Moscow with any direct material assistance that could trigger Western sanctions.
When Xi and Putin met in Uzbekistan last week, Putin acknowledged some restrictions, stressed Xi’s misgivings and concerns about the situation in Ukraine, and praised the other side’s “balanced” stance. Wang Huiyao, founder of the Beijing-based think tank “Globalization Think Tank”, said: “I don’t see any new positions that will be put forward … China does not support war, it does not support conflict, it has been very clear from the beginning.”
Russia has described what it has done against Ukraine as a “special military operation”, emphasizing that it aims to reduce the other side’s military capabilities and root out so-called dangerous nationalists. The Russian army is trying to reverse recent setbacks on the Ukrainian battlefield. Analysts believe that although China may want the war to be shortened, Putin’s combat actions are unlikely to take Beijing into account, nor will it change the substantive nature of the relationship between the two countries. The decisive factor is still geopolitics, including the conflict between Beijing and Washington. competitive relationship.
China and Russia are also actively expanding economic cooperation. In order to offset the damage caused by the European Union ban, Russia is likely to provide China with more and cheaper energy, which will benefit Beijing. “For Xi Jinping, what matters is that Putin does not fail, or leave behind a mess in this aggression that could cause collateral damage to China, mainly on the economic front,” stressed Zeng Ruisheng, dean of China Studies at SOAS, University of London. “Putting China first is the basic driving force of Xi Jinping’s foreign policy,” he said.
Even as Putin’s latest remarks caused market turmoil and sparked condemnation from Western powers, Chinese state media barely reported it. There was a heated discussion on Weibo, with some feeling shocked, some criticizing, and some expressing support. The criticism was not removed by internet censorship. Yuan Jindong, a Chinese defense and foreign policy expert and associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia, said he expected China to continue to strike a balance between avoiding criticizing Russia or publicly showing sympathy for Ukraine, while doing what it could to avoid endorsing Russia.
Yuan Jindong said: “Because Putin’s national security adviser was in China when Putin announced (referring to Putin’s escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian war), China may reiterate to the other party the importance of the relationship between the two countries, but also make it clear to Russia that it should not embrace China. Unrealistic expectations.” He said: “At this moment, Beijing seems to be choosing to stay away from the chaos and increasing danger caused by Russian aggression.”