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Final blow to Chinese “neutrality” in Ukraine war – POLITICO

Meanwhile, Beijing has also turned to the notion of “indivisible security”, which posits that nations should not strengthen their security at the expense of others – a doctrine promoted by Moscow for decades and a criticism aimed at the activities of NATO. Before the invasion, China had supported this concept in joint statements with Russia. But since then it has been included in the Global Security Initiative – a cornerstone of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision for international relations – leading to speculation that it will play a larger role in Chinese foreign policy.

The two men also share a contempt for Western sanctions, including those imposed on Russia. Chinese officials vehemently oppose US “illegal unilateral sanctions” and say they will not comply with them. And Xi has not only passively resisted efforts to isolate Russia, thereby providing the country with an economic lifeline, he has also shown he is willing to bear the economic and reputational costs of supporting his neighbor.

Since 2022, China’s leaders have faced a severe economic downturn, the sudden and unexplained ouster of two ministers and growing Western resistance to its global ambitions. The war has only amplified these challenges, with China’s relations with Europe tarnished by Beijing’s support for Moscow. And while China is wary of openly violating Western sanctions, several Chinese companies have recently been subject to restrictions on doing business with their Russian counterparts.

But that appears to be a sacrifice Xi is willing to make. In fact, as the West has increased its demands on China, its ties with Russia appear to have only strengthened. Trade and defense exchanges have expanded significantly, while the Russian people also appear to have acquired a more positive attitude towards China.

The war has only amplified these challenges, with China’s relations with Europe tarnished by Beijing’s support for Moscow. | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

The longer China maintains its pro-Russian stance, the more difficult it will be to reverse this situation. Chinese companies have already adapted their operations to respond to growing trade relations with Russia. Over time, this structural change will become harder and more expensive to reverse. Additionally, Xi’s support for Putin has been personal and high-profile. And since China’s pro-Russian policies do not enjoy universal support among Chinese intellectuals, a policy reversal could be seen as a concession to its critics.

After meeting with Xi in April, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the two leaders had agreed to “coordinate intensively” on holding peace conferences regarding Ukraine. And he made it clear that he thought “China’s word weighs on Russia.”

It is true that a mediator does not need to be completely impartial to be successful. By exerting decisive influence over one or both disputing parties, it can induce them to make compromises that would otherwise be impossible. However, for these efforts to be successful, said mediator must be willing to rely on the dependent parties in a way that can significantly strain his or her relationship with them. So far, Xi has shown no signs of wanting to do so – and the chances of that happening appear to be diminishing.

European leaders are right to maintain a dialogue with China and continue to demand that Xi use his influence. But until China does so, letting Beijing play a major role in the peace process risks legitimizing the invasion.


Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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