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How China Emerged as a Winner in the Shadow of the Ukraine War

The war in Ukraine is still grinding on but has entered something of a stalemate, with minimal movement on the battlefield. But after two years of war, how has China managed to gain from the war in Ukraine?

Finding Perspective: While Chinese leader Xi Jinping may be feeling some anxiety over slow economic growth and a slumping property market at home, there's plenty of reasons to believe that he's feeling emboldened abroad.

For starters, China is not at war, it is not geopolitically isolated, and it has been able to gain from the broader fallout from Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion.

The war has been a boon for China's credentials as a leader of the Global South, positioning itself as a peacemaker in the conflict while accusing the United States of fueling the war through its military support for Ukraine.

Beijing is also feeling confident as it looks at wavering Western support for Ukraine. Billions of dollars' worth of U.S. military aid for Ukraine remains blocked in Congress and further struggles are likely ahead as war and funding fatigue grow in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election in November.

The seemingly short shelf life of Western support for Ukraine is no doubt being noted in Beijing and factored into any plan of possibility of moving on Taiwan in the future.

The war has also been a test that has largely helped bring China and Russia closer together. While Beijing has at times sought to distance itself from Moscow, it has helped its economy and given political cover where it can.

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Russia is also now far more dependent on China today than ever before -- a trend set to continue into the future.

Why It Matters: Looking ahead, U.S.-China relations will continue to be Xi's leading issue. While both Beijing and Washington are looking to keep things calm for the time being, the coming U.S. election also brings unpredictability.

On the one hand, former President Donald Trump launched a trade war and raised tensions, but a Trump victory is also likely to weaken U.S. alliances around the world.

The stalled aid for Ukraine and a potentially more erratic United States are not lost on Taiwan, either. A recent delegation of senior Taiwanese officials to Washington told Politico that they're "extremely worried" that Ukraine could be abandoned.

In conversations I've had with Taiwanese officials over the last year, they've often said how important it is that Ukraine prevails and that it would send an important message to the Chinese Communist Party on Taiwan.

The Ukraine war's geopolitical winds could certainly change later on in 2024, but for now it looks like they're at China's back.


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RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many… More