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Xi and Putin’s “unrestricted” bonds leave China with few Ukrainian options

On a frigid day in Beijing last month when the Winter Olympics kicked off, Chinese leader Xi Jinping celebrated his diplomatic victory at a banquet for his prestigious guest, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their vision of a new international order centered on Moscow and Beijing, freed from American power.

At dinner, in China’s official view, they discussed “a major hotspot issue of mutual concern.”

Details remain secret, but their talks could be that Russia invaded Ukraine 20 days later, unleashed the worst war in Europe in decades, and the impact of an earthquake on world power could be felt for decades. It was a decisive moment in the event of high sex.

Publicly, Mr Nishi and Mr Putin have vowed that the friendships of their country are “unrestricted.” Chinese leaders also emphasized Putin’s accusations, proclaiming that their partnership was “unwavering.” Western betrayal in Europe.

Now, Mr. Xi’s statement of solidarity seems to have unknowingly encouraged Mr Putin to bet on going to war to heel Ukraine.

Tracing Beijing’s decision, Xi’s deep investment in Putin’s personal ties has limited China’s options and pushed it into policy distortions.

Before and after the invasion, Beijing sympathized with Moscow’s security demands, ridiculed Western war warnings and accused the United States of attacking Russia, but over the past two weeks China has been moving slightly away from Russia. .. The tone expresses sadness for civilian victims and has established itself as a fair party in search of peace talks and an early end to the war.

The worries of China and Mr. Xi remain.

“If he knew, he would go crazy,” said Paul Haenle, a former Chinese director of the National Security Council, and said whether Mr Xi knew of Russia’s aggression plan. Knowing, he didn’t talk to people, he’s colluding; if he wasn’t told by Putin, it’s an insult. “

It wasn’t clear whether Putin had communicated the plan directly to Mr. West, but Western intelligence said Chinese officials had told Russian officials in early February not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics. report. Beijing claims to have foretold it as “pure fake news.”

In any case, the aggression clearly surprised much of Beijing’s establishment, and officials responded, leaving scrambling to evacuate the Chinese people. Even if Mr. Xi knew something about Mr Putin’s plans, some experts said that Moscow would take action in the Ukrainian region adjacent to Russia.

“They didn’t anticipate a full-scale aggression,” said Yun Sang, director of the Stimson Center’s China program, which studied Beijing’s behavior prior to the war. She summarized what she said as a broad view among Chinese officials.

The impact on China extends to Ukraine and even Europe.

Just a month ago, Mr Putin’s warm embrace advertised their ambition to build what they call a fairer and more stable world order. Reckless and one-sided military intervention in an independent state that China has long accused.

Mr Putin’s statement with Mr Putin on February 4 approved Russia’s security proposal to exclude Ukraine from its accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. With the west.

“Putin may have done this anyway, but it was undoubtedly the background that could have been provided by a joint statement, a visit, and an Xi relationship with all of these,” said a senior at the German Marshall Foundation in Berlin. Fellow Andrew Small said.

Mr. Nishi’s image as a politician looking for a problem-free march to this year’s Congress of the Communist Party is likely to win the groundbreaking third term as party leader.

“He owns a relationship with Putin. If the current Chinese system suggests that it is not wise to approach Russia this much, you are effectively criticizing the leader.” Henle said.

Mr Putin’s war has already dragged China to places it did not intend. For decades it sought to build relations with Russia while keeping Ukraine close.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, China was one of the first countries to establish new independent relations with Ukraine and turned to Ukraine as a major supplier of corn, sunflower, canola oil and weapons technology. did.

Chinese diplomats have not challenged Kyiv as more and more Ukrainians have supported accession to NATO over the past few years, said Sergei Gerashimchuk, an analyst at the Ukrainian Prism, a foreign policy research organization in Kyiv. Said.

Ukraine said, “I was sitting on the fence trying to avoid a delicate problem with Beijing and I expected China to do the same.”

As opinions on China solidified in many countries, Mr. Nishi became obsessed with protecting his country, especially from what he saw as a threat to the rise from the United States.

Relations under the Biden administration showed no signs of sustained improvement, so Nishi moved to strengthen relations with Putin and slow US policy.

The two leaders shared a similar view of the world. Both lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both regarded Washington as a major instigator of political opposition to their rule. For both leaders, their partnership is Mr. Biden’s “Democratic Alliance.”

“In its closeness and effectiveness, this relationship is beyond the alliance,” Xi told Putin at a video summit in December. The Kremlin’s aide told reporters in Moscow at the time.

Still, Mr Nishi was a more cautious leader than Mr Putin and seemed to expect China to be forced to choose between Russia and Ukraine.

Just a month before the Olympic Summit with Mr Putin, Chinese leaders welcomed 30 years of diplomatic relations with Ukraine. Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Still, when Mr Putin decided to reverse Ukraine’s shift to western security, Chinese authorities began repeating Russia’s debate, and Beijing was also threatened by US-led military blocks. I saw.

In late January, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken called on China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi to warn of the war with Ukraine. However, Mr. Wang urged Mr. Blinken to deal with Russia’s security dissatisfaction. He said Europe has revealed that a new “balanced” security organization has not played its role in NATO.

Beijing had its own dissatisfaction with NATO rooted in the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, during the NATO war to protect Kosovo’s secession area in 1999. These allegations are due to NATO’s alliance with China in 2021.

As Russian troops rallyed on the Ukrainian border, Chinese authorities continued to defend against Russia’s security concerns.

They also ridiculed Western intelligence warnings about Russia’s imminent aggression. They suggested that Washington, not Moscow, was a warm man, pointing out the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Manufacturing panic. “

The next day, Russian troops attacked.

While governments around the world have blamed Putin, Beijing has turned criticisms of the United States and its allies and even avoided calling Putin’s actions aggression.

But lately, Beijing’s language has begun to change, reflecting the desire to stay away from Mr Putin.

Chinese officials have fine-tuned the call to pay attention to Russia’s security, emphasizing that “the legitimate security concerns of any country should be respected.” They still did not use the word “aggression”, but admitted “conflict between Ukraine and Russia”.

China has also sought to establish itself as a potential mediator, albeit only vaguely so far. China’s foreign minister, Mr. Wang, told reporters Monday that Beijing is willing to “play a constructive role” in bringing about peace talks.

Kyiv analyst Gerasimchuk said China’s efforts to move away from Russia were too late, and that China would try to determine who won the war and improve relations with the winners.

“Many Chinese decision makers have begun to recognize the relationship between black and white. You are either a Chinese ally or an American ally,” said Gerashimchuk, who spends the night in a bomb shelter. rice field. Neutral, but they failed badly. “

Liu Yi When Claire Fu Contributed to the research.

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