- Olga Ivshina and Howard Zhang
- bbc world service
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is about to complete a year. Now there are indications that China is reconsidering its ‘unlimited friendship’ with Russia.
China is shocked by Putin’s failures in Ukraine and it is also facing many problems.
Now he is trying to limit the negative effect of supporting Russia. At the same time, he is trying to bring his relations with the western world back on track.
Twenty days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine i.e. in February last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
In that historic meeting, both the leaders talked about ‘unlimited friendship’ and ‘cooperation in every field’.
The British newspaper Financial Times had claimed that the two leaders also talked about Ukraine, but Russian President Putin did not talk about invading Ukraine.
China’s delicate balance
Although we cannot say for sure that President Xi Jinping did not know anything about Russia’s war preparations, but China did not support the resolution criticizing the Russian attack in the UN.
In the early days of the Ukraine war, many in China were enthusiastic about Russia’s military action.
Many people shared videos of President Vladimir Putin’s speech in which he announced a special military operation in Ukraine. Russia still describes the ongoing war in Ukraine as a military operation.
On the other hand, Chinese leaders have been blaming America for starting the war in Ukraine. According to him, this is the result of the expansion of Nato by the West.
Despite this, China has not shown any interest in helping Russia. The American newspaper Washington Post claims that Russia has repeatedly sought financial and technological help from China.
According to the newspaper, Xi Jinping was not against the help keeping in mind the interests of both the countries, but the reality is that there is tension in the relationship.
According to the post, China understands Russia’s situation but it cannot ignore its own situation as well.
try to minimize the damage
The presidents of the two countries have met only once after the start of the war in Ukraine. This meeting took place in the Uzbek city of Samarkand in September last year.
This meeting took place at a time when Ukraine was retaliating against Russia. Thanks to these attacks, Ukraine had liberated a large area occupied by Russia.
After the Samarkand meeting, Putin said that he respected China’s balanced position regarding the Ukraine war.
President Xi Jinping had said that China, together with Russia, is ready to bring positive energy to the world.
But behind these sweet words in front of the camera, a complex truth was hidden.
The war in Ukraine has created problems for China that cannot be solved easily.
Energy prices have increased in Europe due to the Russian attack. Because of which the cash in the hands of people to buy Chinese goods has reduced.
Chinese investment in Russia stops
Due to not criticizing China’s Russian attack, there has been tension in its relations with Western countries.
This is a problem for China, because Europe and America are the main trading partners of China.
In the first six months of the year 2022, there has been no new Chinese investment in Russia. Analysts say that by not investing, China is trying to avoid possible sanctions towards America.
Russian China expert Leonid Kovchich says, the rhetoric of ‘infinite friendship’ has not been affected by the steps taken in reality.
He says, “It is absolutely not in China’s interest to complicate its relationship with the entire Western world. China’s relationship with the US is going to be tense for a long time, so it is important for China to Do not spoil relations with the European Union.
It is also possible that in the initial days of the war, China could not understand that what would be the effect of the war on the European Union and it had no idea that Europe would help Ukraine a lot with money and weapons.
Leonid Kovacich says, “This is the reason why China is now trying to repair relations with Europe. At least through words, this is happening.”
The impact of the Ukraine war has also affected China’s handling of the Taiwan issue. China believes that Taiwan is its rebellious province which has to join China one day or the other.
In recent months, there has been tension in the relations between Taiwan and China. In December, China conducted a major air and sea military demonstration around Taiwan. In the initial days of the war in Ukraine, many analysts felt that now China can also take action against Taiwan.
But now experts are saying that considering the reaction of America and the West on the attack on Ukraine, China will not dare to act on Taiwan.
China’s internal politics
On January 9, China’s new Foreign Minister Ching Gang spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“Relations between the two countries are neutral and not based on aggression against any third country,” it was officially stated in the talks held at Russia’s request.
This statement seems far away from the talk of ‘infinite friendship’ in February last year.
Ching’s appointment came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was removed from the post.
Zhao was called a warrior for his aggressive attitude. He was a strong advocate of China’s policies and used to take on China’s opponents. She was often compared to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Zakharova is also known for making sharp comments on Western countries.
Some analysts say that Zhao’s removal from the Foreign Ministry is a sham, but some believe that it is an attempt to ease China’s relationship with the West.
It is important for China to improve relations with the West because after Kovid this country wants to win the confidence of the world again.
disappointment from moscow
Supporters and political analysts of the Chinese government say that the Chinese government is disappointed with Russia and considers the war a strategic mistake.
An indication of this was found in November last year. Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in a joint statement with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, ‘The threat of nuclear war is unacceptable.’
The newspaper Financial Times quoted an unnamed Chinese official as saying, “Putin is insane. The decision to attack Ukraine was made by a very small group in the Russian government. China should absolutely not side with Russia.”
There is little hope that China will start making anti-Russian statements, but it will want to be careful in the future. Through this caution, China would like to minimize the consequences of Russia’s failure in Ukraine and the harm of international upheaval.
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