One year after the invasion launched by putin about Ukraine, Chinathe most important strategic ally of Moscow expressed regret for the suffering of the Ukrainian people. Beijing surprised with an unexpected diplomatic communication in which she offered to work on resolving the crisis. In that direction, sent to the European Union (EU) a document in which it establishes its position and offers to mediate an agreement that ends the war in Ukraine.
Given the novelty, Washington expressed its distrust in the suspicion that China may be in dialogue with Putin to help you in a concrete way in areas of technology and air weapons systems. The United States believes that the Chinese strategy with the EU occurs within the framework of a seduction tactic with which Beijing seeks to generate “a rift” between Washington and Brussels. For the moment, the EU has not ruled on Beijing’s offer; nevertheless, there is a moderate optimism in several European leaders.
By offering himself as a peacemaker, Xi Jinping is trying to show interest in finding a solution to the conflict, moving away from his apparent neutrality towards the international community. At the same time, he would be seeking to strengthen and sweeten China’s image globally. However, beyond the different reasons that the Chinese leader pursues, the truth is that Beijing senses that the end of the war is relevant to its interests and with this it seeks to strengthen its position on the global political and economic board.
Although the parties involved handle themselves with strict reserve, the European leadership has not yet answered what temperament it will adopt with the Chinese proposal, they must unify criteria on their position. The main point is that European leaders have disagreed on the trust and credibility of the Chinese document as Beijing strove to establish itself in a position of neutrality that was extremely difficult to sustain from the first day of the Russian invasion. The Chinese Foreign Ministry declared itself neutral when voting in the United Nations General Assembly, but at the same time refuses to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, arguing its decision on the same grounds as Moscow’s disinformation campaign. On the other hand, China increased Russian oil and gas trade below international prices by applying discount rates to Putin’s products. However, Beijing’s movements have been strict and careful in commercial transactions so as not to cross the red lines of the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, in fact several financial agreements of Chinese Investment Banks related to infrastructure and joint projects in areas of hydrocarbons were stopped by Beijing.
However, the conduct shown by China in relation to the conflict throughout the year of war made Brussels and Washington describe their position as a pro-Russian neutrality where Beijing preserves its interests by taking advantage of the international scenario to expand the volume of its business with the West. This Chinese position raises doubts about the credibility and confidence of its peace plan in European and US officials who believe and have asserted that Beijing is considering providing lethal military aid to President Putin. However, President Biden himself contradicted statements by senior officials and officials in his administration that they did not believe that Beijing would provide such assistance to Moscow.
Be that as it may, the year of Russia’s war in Ukraine took its toll in economic terms and affected China’s reputation. Moscow’s military operation broke with the main postulates of Beijing’s foreign policy and showed that China selectively applies its respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. On the other hand, the implications and consequences of the war on the global economy demand a high cost from China and consequences that it has not been able to hide. Beijing owns about a third of the debt of developing countries and the war increased the risk of default in several countries.
The Chinese diplomatic offer presented in Brussels highlights some key aspects to end the conflict, and as an important fact for the Latin American region, it was supported by President Lula of Brazil. The draft of the Chinese entente insists and confirms its well-known position for the last decade on “abandoning the Cold War mentality”, but at the same time it clearly stands in favor of Russia calling for the lifting of Western sanctions against it. This led the US president to declare at a press conference that China’s plan appears unfeasible to the extent that it does not focus on neutrality but rather unilaterally benefits Russia. Circles close to Biden have also expressed themselves, indicating to the media that the plan presented by Beijing is nothing more than “a diplomatic hope and an expression of wishes” that does not become a feasible plan to be put into practice.
For several officials in the Biden administration, the double standard of Chinese diplomacy cannot be hidden; On the one hand, he calls for the cessation of military actions and the opening of peace talks, arguing that dialogue and negotiation are the only way out of the armed conflict. On the other hand, such a call lacks a programmatic route of concrete action and does not require any testimony or well-intentioned behavior from Moscow that serves as a basis to open the talks. This generates that in principle the Biden administration opposes the plan of Beijing, which maintained that with this diplomatic movement China seeks to protect its reputation and not risk its political capital in the defense of Vladimir Putin, who today is no longer its strong partner from two years ago.
Brussels is still in line with Washington’s thinking, both capitals think that if the Ukrainians stop fighting Putin would see to it that Ukraine disappears; Contrary sensu, if Moscow withdraws its troops from Ukrainian soil the war would end. The Beijing document also expresses something that the entire West agrees with by placing China in a favorable position against the threat of the use of nuclear weapons and mass destruction, the EU and Washington have salvaged only that point in favor of Beijing.
In that scenario, US and European officials remain skeptical of the Chinese proposal. However, President Zelensky told reporters that he considers it a positive sign for China to come up with a peace proposal and called on the EU to consider and release the document, saying he is ready to meet with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. Knowing the Ukrainian president’s statements, several NATO officials indicated that it would be prudent for Joe Biden to also adhere to Zelensky’s position.
Despite the reservations of the case, when talking about China it can be tempting to rule out any document or offer that comes from Beijing, however, the truth is that the proposal presents negative aspects but also some advantages for the Biden administration to put test your intentions and explore resolution options to the ongoing conflict. Consequently, it is a good opportunity for China itself to show how far it is willing to generate favorable conditions to carry out negotiations to end Putin’s war in Ukraine.
In relation to Ukraine, after a year of war, the suffering and destruction has exceeded any imaginable parameter and it no longer has much more to lose. Consequently, Europe and the United States should think that it is worth playing the Chinese “chip” and definitively confirm whether Beijing is serious about the opportunity that has been presented to it.
The audience at a conference ridiculed the Russian foreign minister when he claimed that the war was started by Ukraine