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Will China Change Its Stance On The War In Ukraine?

  • China’s 12-point peace plan was received with lukewarm interest.
  • Beijing is looking to showcase itself as a peace broker and responsible power to the non-Western world.
  • U.S. officials are closely watching if China is willing to support Russia with arms.

 

After releasing a 12-point proposal on how to broker a cease-fire in Ukraine and facing allegations from the United States that it is considering arming Moscow, China's involvement in the war is set to enter a new phase.

Finding Perspective: Beijing's so-called peace plan, which is actually more of a position paper than an actual framework for ending the war, was mostly a repackaging of previous Chinese talking points, as I wrote here.

The reception has been largely cold in the West, with officials brushing it aside as a way to cement Russian gains in Ukraine. In Moscow, things were more muted. Russian officials welcomed the Chinese proposal, but added that the conditions for a peaceful resolution of the conflict were not in place "at the moment." Kyiv, meanwhile, said it was good to see China talking about peace and that it hoped Beijing would call on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

Given that it doesn't appear to be moving the needle and that all sides are still willing to give war a chance, what's behind the Chinese move?

As Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told me, "Beijing is looking to speak to a global audience" with the document and also showcase itself as a peacemaker and responsible power to the non-Western world, which tends to be far more sympathetic to Moscow than the West.

Alexander Gabuev, an expert on China-Russia relations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, added that the proposal also gives Beijing room to lay the blame for continued war at the feet of the West and gain some cover for its tightening relationship with Moscow in the process.

Why It Matters: China has been awkwardly walking a tightrope since Russia invaded and it looks set to keep straddling that line.

The big question is whether Beijing is willing to step up its support, as Washington says it is considering. U.S. officials like CIA Director Bill Burns have clarified that no shipments have taken place and NBC News reported that U.S. intel on the potential transfer was gleaned from Russian officials.

Western officials are on high alert and many analysts are looking for potential backdoors, with Belarusian autocrat Alyaksandr Lukashenka's recent state visit to Beijing watched closely for any kind of military deals that could potentially benefit Moscow, as I reported here.

Still, others see the transfer of military aid to Russia as a red line China isn't willing to cross.

As Zhou Bo, a former senior colonel in the People's Liberation Army, wrote in a recent op-ed for the Financial Times, "If Beijing has refused to send any such support to Moscow in the past 12 months, then why should it change its mind now, especially when it has urged a peaceful resolution to the conflict?"

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Leave a comment
  • Hugh Williams on March 09 2023 said:
    If Russia starts to lose we can be sure Chinese help will be there.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 09 2023 said:
    China isn’t going to change its stance on the Ukraine conflict. The reason is that its strategic alliance with Russia is quintessential for establishing a new multipolar World Order, unseating the dollar as the principal global reserve currency and undermining its dominance in the global oil trade.

    Moreover, China’s economy and Russia’s complement each other almost totally. Russia has everything that China needs and China provides the largest market in the world for Russian energy exports and a multitude of other exports.

    Russia and China share a strategic vision against the unipolar world: both see the United States in relative decline and the world already becoming multipolar. In the process of mismanaging its decline, the US suffers from a psychological problem that manifests itself in the unfounded fear of power challenge from potential rivals, hence its persistent attempts to hinder their rise and contain them.

    Both China and Russia view the Ukraine conflict as a rearguard action by the United States to slow down the emergence of the new World Order. Moreover, China sees an invisible hand behind the Ukraine conflict and it is the United States’.

    China sees the direct involvement of the US-led NATO in the Ukraine conflict as a dress rehearsal for an inevitable confrontation between China and the United States over Taiwan with direct involvement by NATO.

    China’s tacit support of Russia in Ukraine will eventually get a quid pro quo from Russia when the time comes for China to restore Taiwan to the motherland.

    The outcome of this conflict will have huge implications for the global economy, energy resources, the US dollar and the future of Asia-Pacific region particularly the fate of Taiwan.

    So far there is no evidence that Russia has asked for weapons or ammunitions from China. But if it does, there is a big probability that China will oblige partly because of its strategic alliance with Russia and partly as a warning to the United States to stop supplying weapons to Taiwan.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

Leave a comment




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