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China’s Balancing Act on Russia’s War in Ukraine

At last week’s summit in Uzbekistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin surprisingly acknowledged that China has “questions and concerns” about what is happening in Ukraine, a sign that Beijing has been wary of the war. It was the first indication of growing concern.

Citing damage to China-invested shipbuilding projects, steel plants, highways and other infrastructure projects, China expert Victor Gao said: I’m talking about the huge investment you provided as a trader.

What might have been thought to be a “military exercise” fought by China quickly turned into a devastating war, damaging China’s own tens of billions of dollars of investment in China and reducing global energy and food supply. It has pushed prices up, which has hit the Chinese economy.Observers have complicated a balancing act in which China provides Russia with some help, but not excessively, to avoid hostilities between the United States and Europe. I have to.

Gao, a professor at Suzhou University in China and vice president of China, said, “China has been hit very hard in terms of its large-scale investment. China wants to see the war end as soon as possible,” he added. Center of China and Globalization.

China’s balancing act

China has rejected Western calls to condemn the aggression and has refused to join international sanctions against Russia.

Putin has relied on Beijing for trade in the face of Western sanctions. Based on China customs dataoverall exports from Russia increased by more than 50% from January to August compared to the same period last year.

FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping before an extended meeting of heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, September 16, 2022 are having a meeting. (Sputnik/Sergey Bobylev/Pool via Reuters)

According to Chinese state news agency, President Xi Jinping met with Putin last week at the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and said, “China will work with Russia to provide strong mutual support on issues related to our respective core interests.” We are ready to expand,” he said. Xinhua. The report also said that Xi “underscored that China will work with Russia to deepen substantive cooperation in areas such as trade, agriculture and connectivity.”

However, China appears to be far from evading sanctions.

John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, said, “I have never seen China provide material support to Mr. Putin over the war in Ukraine. I don’t see any signs of violations,” he said. (NSC), in his Sept. 16 interview with VOA.

US factor

China cannot afford to distance itself from Russia as tensions rise between Beijing and the United States.

“Russia-China relations are supposed to be US-China relations,” said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. “If US-China relations worsen, Russia and China will warm further. At the moment, US-China relations are [is] “It’s not going well, so it’s only natural that relations between Russia and China will warm up.”

In early September, China participated in Russian military exercises in the Russian Far East.

FILE - Russian soldiers take part in the Vostok 2022 military exercise with Chinese participation at the Sergeyevsky training ground outside the city of Ussuriysk in the Russian Far East on September 6, 2022.

FILE – Russian soldiers take part in the Vostok 2022 military exercise with Chinese participation at the Sergeyevsky training ground outside the city of Ussuriysk in the Russian Far East on September 6, 2022.

“China has a choice. As I have said many times, I clearly hope they choose to condemn what Putin is doing in Ukraine. Kirby said in an interview with VOA.

“We will continue to maintain communication with Beijing as needed. Clearly there are issues of disagreement between the United States and China, but there are areas where we said we could and should. Please work with us,” said an NSC spokesperson.

Beijing considerations

But its dependence on Russia as a geopolitical partner increasingly presents Beijing with a dilemma, especially given its stance on peace.

“I don’t think China will go all out to make Russia a close strategic ally,” Mr. Oh said. “It’s nothing to say, except for its military strength. Its economy rivals one of China’s richest regions, perhaps Guangdong. You’d better get India on your side.”

Observers hope China will continue to maintain its course by refraining from outright support for Russia while calling for an end to the war.

“China is a friend of Russia and a friend of Ukraine. China is having conversations with Russia on the one hand and Ukraine on the other. It can be done constructively. It will be in the limelight,” Gao said.

Opportunity in Central Asia

As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, China’s influence in Central Asia has grown, as reflected in last week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Uzbekistan, President Xi Jinping’s visit to Kazakhstan, and agreements with other Central Asian countries. seems to be increasing.

FILE - President of Kazakhstan Kassim Jomart Tokayev and President of China Xi Jinping visit exhibition "Kazakhstan and China: Dialogue for the Millennium" September 14, 2022 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.  (Press Service of the President of Kazakhstan/Handout by Reuters)

FILE – Kazakhstan’s President Kasim Jomart Tokayev and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit the exhibition “Kazakhstan-China: Dialogue of the Millennium” in Nursultan, Kazakhstan, September 14, 2022. (Source: Press Service of the President of Kazakhstan/via Reuters)

“Of course, China has always wanted to build an oil pipeline through Central Asia, but Russia’s opposition prevented the plan from being implemented,” said Simon Cheng, a professor of political science at National Taiwan University. But now China’s plan is close to being realized.”

The Central Asian nations are playing a key role in connecting China with the West and helping President Xi Jinping achieve his One Belt, One Road initiative — building a modern Silk Road and making oil and natural gas easily reach China. We can ship to and send Chinese products to Europe and other parts of the world.

“In Central Asia, perhaps China will benefit [from the Ukraine war]but overall, its economy is suffering because of inflation in agricultural products, soaring wheat and oil prices.For China, war is not what it wants,” Chen said.

last week, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan Sign Agreement For a feasibility study to bypass sanctioned Russia and build a long-awaited railway through three countries to Europe.

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