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China’s reluctance to stay away from Russia limits its role in Ukraine

In the face of rising western pressure, China is eager to appear to be working to prevent the aggravation of the Ukrainian crisis, but because Beijing is reluctant to move away from Moscow. The role it can play to retreat Russia is limited.

On Monday, Yang Jie, a member of the Communist Party’s highest decision-making body, China’s Politburo, met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Rome to give Ukraine a deepening crisis and its implications for world security. Discuss the impact.

The first meeting between duos since October, as Beijing has become increasingly isolated from much of the world since President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared an “unlimited” friendship early on. The meeting begins last month, just a few weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So far most countries have blamed Moscow’s actions, but China has refrained from calling Russia’s attack an aggression, and Foreign Minister Xi Jinping last week made Russia “the most important strategic partner” of China. I called it. “. “

That position threatened Mr. Nishi’s efforts to unite China and Russia as a new “axis” for many in the West and to portray China as a responsible stakeholder in world affairs, leaving the United States and Europe away from China. May give more reasons to do.

Beijing is now paying attention to efforts to help find a way to stop the fighting, with the decision to work more closely with Russia in the weeks prior to the invasion.

Beijing’s diplomatic adviser said that the fact that a joint statement with Mr Putin brought the closest relationship between China and Russia in 70 years just a month ago is his best to meet Mr Sullivan’s show. Beijing’s growing interest in playing a more active role in mitigating the escalation of the crisis, which says it has sent diplomats.

The adviser also noted in a call with European leaders a recent statement that Mr. Xi and other senior officials would like to work with the international community for a ceasefire in Ukraine.

However, many foreign policy analysts say Beijing’s strategic focus on coordinating with Moscow to confront the US-led West is that China buys oil, gas and other products in China. It means that it is unlikely to harness its power against Russia, which relies on it to help lift the economy — to retreat Mr Putin.

Satellite images before and after showed the destruction of a residential area in Mariupol, as Ukrainian officials said gunfire struck a skyscraper in Kyiv; award-winning American journalists were killed; U.S. officials killed Russia Says he asked China for military assistance. Photo: Ukraine Emergency Service / AP

Chinese expert Andrew Small said, “If they think they can square it with Russia and help alleviate some of the pressure they are facing, they will exercise. It won’t be difficult to get through. ” The German Marshall Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.

But China “may go through a mediation process to make it look like it’s doing something for peace,” Small said. It’s minimal. “

US officials said they were in contact with Chinese responders and revealed the consequences of giving the Kremlin a workaround for US sanctions.

“We guarantee that neither China nor anyone else can compensate Russia for these losses,” Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

So far, China, whose commercial relations with the United States and Europe far outweigh its commercial relations with Russia, has lost access to the dollar-dominated world trading system and has devastated the Chinese economy. We have adhered to these restrictions for fear of giving.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is meeting with top Chinese executives in Rome on Monday.


Photo:

Manuel Bar Seneta / Associated Press

Beijing seems to be under pressure prior to the Monday meeting between Prime Minister Sullivan and Prime Minister Yang. Identify what Moscow asked for, or Beijing’s reaction to that request.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, rejected reports of Russia’s request on Monday as “disinformation” and “malicious.”

“The current top priority is not to fuel tensions, but all parties should use restraints to exacerbate and cool the situation,” Zhao told a regular briefing in Beijing.

Moscow also denied allegations that it demanded weapons from China.

China’s foreign policy adviser said Yang was likely to present China as a conflict-neutral country in a meeting with Sullivan, maintaining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity while addressing Russia’s security concerns. Claims that it is necessary to express its understanding. The result of the expansion of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Europe.

That position would be in line with the difficult diplomatic dance that China has done since the Russian troops advanced to Ukraine at the end of last month. The magnitude of Russia’s attack on Eastern European countries has upset Chinese leaders, but advisers say. Xi will continue to be motivated with Mr Putin, as Beijing is unlikely to improve its ties with the United States and needs to maintain Russia as a partner, even if it is not a full ally.

Beijing is a list of Chinese tech companies to be blacklisted to Beijing’s campaign for the Biden administration to leave significant tariffs during the Trump era and force assimilation of China’s military support and other ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. I am dissatisfied with the expansion of.

“The United States needs to reduce attacks and sanctions on China,” said Wang Huiyao, an adviser to the Chinese government and director of the China Globalization Center, a think tank in Beijing. Pick it up and expect China to help. “

Chinese leaders were furious at the Biden administration’s decision to stage a diplomatic boycott for the Beijing Winter Olympics last month, and Xi saw it as an opportunity to showcase China’s development after seven years of preparation. I did. .. Putin will be Mr. Xi’s only VIP guest from the great powers attending the opening of the Olympic Games.

Recently, Beijing censors have downplayed reports of Russia’s domestic aggression and have instructed Chinese media to refrain from publishing “pro-Russia” or “pro-Ukraine” articles, according to Chinese journalists. According to journalists, all media outlets should avoid “slandering” China-Russia relations, according to the Ministry of Publicity.

“Leaving Moscow isn’t something Xi has in mind,” said Yoon Sang, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank. The new position change raises questions about putting China in a difficult position in Russia in the first place, so do it now. “

“It wouldn’t be an intolerable policy,” Sun said in a year when Nishi was trying to break the precedent and maintain power in the third phase.

Write to Lingling Wei (lingling.wei@wsj.com)

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