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Xi Jinping is unlikely to abandon his “old friend” Vladimir Putineven as the Russian leader’s decision to send thousands more troops to Ukraine and his nuclear threats are testing Beijing’s “unlimited” partnership with Moscow, experts say.
Instead of this, China will deepen its awkward stance of demanding dialogue and a peaceful solution while refusing to condemn the invasion of Ukraine through Russia.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York China would take an “objective” and “fair” position.
Xi and Putin have become closer in recent years, united by their mutual distrust of the West, and reaffirmed their partnership just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. but China has been careful not to provide direct material support that could trigger Western sanctions against it.
Putin acknowledged those boundaries last week when the two met in Uzbekistan for the first time since the war began, describing Xi as someone who has questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine and praising him for his “balanced” position.
“I don’t see how different a new position will be… China does not support the wardoes not support the conflict, that was clear from the beginning,” said Henry Wang Huiyao, founder of the think tank Center for China and Globalization based in Beijing.
Russia says its actions in Ukraine are a “special operation” to weaken its neighbor’s military capabilities and root out people it describes as dangerous nationalists.
Though China was likely hoping for a short war, Putin’s battlefield moves in Ukraine to counter recent defeats are unlikely to worry Beijing or change the substantive nature of the countries’ ties, analysts said. Geopolitics remains a key factor, including Beijing’s competition with Washington.
Economic cooperation between the two giant neighbors is likely to increase as China reaps the benefits of ever-cheaper energy supplies while Russia recoups losses from European Union bans.
“What is most important to Xi is that Putin does not fail or turn the invasion into a disaster that could cause China collateral damage, mainly in the economic sphere.”said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at SOAS University London. “The fundamental engine behind Xi’s foreign policy is to put China first.”
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Official Chinese media barely covered Putin’s recent speech, even after it rocked world markets and was condemned by Western powers. However, the comments were widely discussed on the social network Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter) and prompted a mixture of shock and criticism, which the censorship did not remove, as well as support.
Yuan Jingdong, an associate professor at the University of Sydney who specializes in China’s defense and foreign policy, said he hopes China will continue to walk the fine line of not publicly criticizing Russia or openly showing sympathy for Ukraine , while also refraining from it as far as possible. to support Putin’s actions.
“Given that Putin’s national security adviser was (was) in China when Putin made the announcement, there may be some reassurance from China towards Russia about the importance of the bilateral relationship, but also a clear indication of what Russia can expect. “Realistic of China,” he said.
“At this point, Beijing’s option seems to be to stay out of the mess. and the growing danger to which the Russian invasion has led,” he said.
Posted by Reuters