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China faces choice: backing Russia or deadly US sanctions

17 June, 2024 Monday
17:21

After refusing to attend the Peace Summit in Switzerland, the People's Republic of China once again called on Russia and Ukraine to start direct talks as soon as possible

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The Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations emphasized that China urges all parties in the conflict to show political will, come together, and initiate peace talks as soon as possible to achieve a ceasefire and end hostilities.

This statement from the Chinese diplomat came right after it was revealed that delegations from over 90 countries attended the Peace Summit in Switzerland. Among these countries were BRICS members like India, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia, with Brazil represented by an observer. Against this backdrop, China's complete absence, after trying to convince the Global South to boycott the summit, highlighted China's political isolation, which is undoubtedly an uncomfortable position for the PRC.

On the sidelines of the summit, Jake Sullivan, the U.S. National Security Advisor, pointed out to journalists that China's absence might be due to Moscow's pressure and Beijing's willingness to help Russia rebuild its military.

If China really wants peace in Ukraine, as they claim, they should have come to Switzerland, Sullivan emphasized.

In response, the Chinese diplomat at the UN reiterated China's stance on the need for direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. This is despite Putin's idea of negotiations meaning Ukraine must agree that the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia regions, and Crimea are part of Russia and withdraw its troops from these areas.

Beijing's main issue now is the harsh U.S. sanctions on Chinese firms aiding Russia's military-industrial complex, which means prolonging the war against Ukraine.

During his recent visit to Beijing, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Foreign Minister that the US will take action if China continues to support the Russian military-industrial complex. Meanwhile, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN accused the US of spreading lies about China’s support for Russia to distract from the conflict and sow division.

China called on the US to stop using the Ukraine issue as an excuse to target Beijing and impose unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies, according to China’s deputy UN representative. This tough rhetoric from a senior Chinese diplomat suggests that the US is on the right track with its sanctions against Chinese firms. Putin and his ally Xi Jinping only understand actions, not diplomatic words.

The Chinese diplomat indicated that Beijing didn't anticipate the U.S. would move from warnings about sanctioning Chinese companies aiding Russia's war in Ukraine to actual sanctions that disrupt these companies' operations. This is clearly just the start of pressure on China, which might extend beyond companies directly supporting Russia's aggressive war. The new tariff on Chinese electric cars, agreed upon by G7 leaders at their recent summit in Italy, also signals what the civilized world can do to China's economy if Xi Jinping continues his strategic partnership with Russia and supports the war against Ukraine.

This situation isn't in the best interest of China's leadership or the Communist Party, which has been shaping the country's strategy for decades. It's also not favorable for those who want the struggling Chinese economy to stabilize and return to growth.

Thus, China has a simple choice: either facilitate a peace process between Russia and Ukraine and warn Putin that continued aggression could strain relations with Beijing, or continue supporting Russia's aggressive war, hoping that a Russian victory will weaken the West and enable China to pursue its own aggressive actions in the Asia-Pacific, which might be a strategic goal for Xi Jinping.

However, recent statements from a top Chinese diplomat suggest Beijing is leaning towards a peaceful resolution to Russia's war against Ukraine. They are struggling, though, to find a way to ensure peace without considering Russia's aggressive ambitions. Russia refuses to relinquish conquered territories or its stance on the role of former Soviet republics and their right to choose their own development paths, as seen in Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries.

Source

About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, Shevchenko National Prize laureate.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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