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Thursday, May 26, 2022

China supports Russia, so far

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The mood had heated up rhetorically. The US side had threatened “serious consequences” and “serious consequences” if China supplies weapons to Russia. The People’s Republic responded with the accusation of “malicious insinuations” and criticized the sanctions directed at Russia as “harmful to the global economy”.

So it was time for the first talks between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine began.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]
“The crisis in Ukraine is something we don’t want to see,” Xi said by phone, according to a report by China’s state-run CCTV. She called on the United States to work together with China for world peace.

The White House, for its part, said Biden had explained to Xi the consequences “if China provides material support to Russia in its brutal attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilians.” phone call.

The US government is concerned that Beijing is providing military, economic, or financial support. The effect of sanctions should not be mitigated. Biden urged Xi to put himself on the “right side of history.”

But where is China in this crisis? It is no accident that words like ambivalence, tightrope, poise, egg dance, poise are repeatedly used to describe the Chinese attitude. Because Beijing emphasizes that it respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and adheres to the goals and principles of the UN Charter.

So far, China has not condemned the invasion

However, the promise is complemented by the indication that the historical context of the Ukraine issue must be clarified, the origin of the problem investigated and the legitimate concerns of all parties addressed. This is according to a statement by State Counselor for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi. So far, China has refused to call the war a war and condemn the invasion.

Jiechi met with a delegation in Rome on Monday for intensive seven-hour consultations with Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to US President Joe Biden. There, too, the talks revolved around possible economic or military support for Russia from China.

Sullivan expressed Washington’s “serious concern” over Beijing’s rapprochement with Moscow and threatened “significant consequences.” Jiechi dismissed media reports of economic and military aid as baseless.

In the end, they at least agreed to the obligation to keep the lines of communication open. A day later, regarding the war in Ukraine, the Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded: “All parties must exercise the utmost restraint, protect civilians and prevent a major humanitarian crisis.”

Officials claim Russia and China are “strategic partners”

China doesn’t want to mess things up with anyone, but it wants to know which position is the least precarious. It is officially stated that Russia and China are “strategic partners” and that the friendship between the two countries is “strong”. This goes back to Vladimir Putin’s trip to Beijing in early February, where he was the guest of honor at the opening of the Winter Olympics.

The night before, he and Xi Jinping signed a 5,000-word agreement aimed at the United States and the West.

More about the Ukrainian war on Tagesspiegel Plus:

In it, they reiterate “that the new intergovernmental relationship between Russia and China is superior to the political and military alliances of the Cold War era.” There are no “forbidden areas” of cooperation.

Both sides hoped to benefit from personal closeness: Putin had managed to win China’s full support in the looming confrontation with the US, NATO and the EU over Ukraine. Xi, in turn, found a partner in Putin who, on the one hand, broke the diplomatic boycott of the Olympics and, on the other hand, supported him in the increasingly tense relationship with the United States. In return, Putin assured Xi of his full solidarity with Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Ukraine cannot be compared with Taiwan

The outraged communist regime has now dismissed any speculation that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could be compared to a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. It is said that they are very different things. Ukraine is a sovereign state, while Taiwan is considered an inseparable part of China’s territory, a “separatist province”.

Under no circumstances does China want to risk breaking up with the US and Europe. Its export economy is highly dependent on the European and American markets. The monetary and financial system, which is still dominated by Washington and Wall Street, is also central.

On the other hand, China is Russia’s most important trading partner. About a third of all Russian oil exports and 17 percent of gas exports go to the public of the People’s Republic. It is also the largest buyer of Russian coal and imports wheat and wood.

Military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing is also traditionally intense. Russia once provided fighter jets, submarines, radar surveillance equipment, missile defense systems. Meanwhile, China itself is capable of developing modern weapons. Has Moscow asked Beijing for military support for its war of aggression against Ukraine in the form of arms supplies? That is what US intelligence agencies claim. It would be armed drones, armored vehicles, surface-to-air missiles. China rejects this as misinformation.

Is something moving in China?

However, even before Biden’s phone call with Xi, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphasized: “Our message is clear: If China offers military support or other assistance that circumvents sanctions or supports acts of war, there will be significant consequences.”

Is something moving in China? Is Xi walking away from her ‘boundless’ friendship with Putin? There are reports that she is driving a rift even through the Communist Party leadership, separating opponents and supporters of the war from Russia.

It is quite possible that the longer the war lasts, the more Xi will turn his back on Putin. It is noteworthy that on the eve of the Xi-Biden phone call, Chinese state television first reported a Russian attack on Ukrainian civilians queuing to buy bread. Ten people died.

Staying neutral in the face of an aggressor committing new crimes every day can be difficult even for a coldly calculating power politician.

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