Thursday, March 23, 2023

Will China Promise Russia Arms After Biden’s Ukraine Visit?

Washington, DC – There are no takers for China quoting the scriptures on global peace in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with the United States even warning the Asian giant of the consequences should it interfere in the conflict on the side of Russia.

The visit of US President Joe Biden to Ukraine in an unannounced secret trip cemented the American and European stand against China. The American warning was conveyed to diplomat Wang Yi by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after the two met briefly.

China is still to clarify if it is thinking of supplying arms to Russia as a counter to the West, talking of more arms and ammunition to Ukraine. Analysts are surprised that despite Biden’s visit, China is mum on the question of arms supply to Russia. The question of at what point in time the conflicting sides will think of a ceasefire cannot arise until the international community remains divided on the issue of backing either Ukraine or Russia.

China appeared unfazed by the overt criticism from the West over its pro-Russia stand. Wang said on Ukraine and China-Russia ties: “The China-Russia comprehensive strategy partnership of coordination is built on the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of third countries, which is within the sovereign right of any two independent states. We do not accept the US’s finger-pointing or even coercion targeting China-Russia relations. The US, as a major country, has every reason to work for a political settlement of the crisis instead of fanning the flames of profiting from it.”

American officials told CNN the US has recently begun seeing “disturbing” trends, and there are signs that Beijing wants to “creep up to the line” of providing lethal military aid to Moscow without getting caught.

The officials would not describe what intelligence the US has seen in detail, suggesting a recent shift in China’s posture. However, they said US officials had been concerned enough that they have shared the intelligence with allies and partners at the Munich Security Conference over the last several days, according to CNN.

Blinken and Wang met on the sidelines of a global security conference in Munich, just hours after Wang scolded Washington as “hysterical” in a running dispute over the US downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon.

A State Department official said China was trying to “have it both ways” by claiming it wants to contribute to peace and stability while taking “concerning” steps to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken “was quite blunt in warning about the implications and consequences of China providing material support to Russia or assisting Russia with systematic sanctions evasion,” the senior official said.

Russia and China signed a “no limits” partnership last February, shortly before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, and their economic links have boomed as Moscow’s connections with the West have shriveled.

The West has been wary of China’s response to the Ukraine war, with a warning that a Russian victory would color China’s actions toward Taiwan. China has refrained from condemning the war or calling it an “invasion.”

Biden’s trip came as EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss jointly procuring ammunition to provide to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. “It is the most urgent issue. If we fail on that, the result of the war is in danger,” the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said before the meeting.

Politico reported on Sunday that the Biden administration was pressuring Ukraine to “consolidate its gains and perhaps launch its own counterstrike” as western analysts and officials say Russia is at present unable to launch a large-scale or surprise counter-offensive of its own.

Wang said the Ukraine crisis is not what “we want to see.” Like all other parties, China is concerned about the possibility of the conflict escalating. “China is not a party to the Ukraine Crisis, but we have not sat idly by or added fuel to the fire, and we firmly oppose any move to exploit the crisis. Everything China has done is aimed at facilitating peace through dialogue. China will be firmly standing on the side of dialogue and peace. …Some people do not want peace talks to succeed or fighting to stop. They don’t care about the life and death of Ukrainians or the harm done to Europe, but have larger strategic calculations in mind.”

Significantly, Wang promised to issue a paper outlining China’s position on the political solution to the Ukraine crisis. He added that China “adopts a responsible attitude towards international disputes and plays a constructive role based on the merits of the matter itself.”

The Chinese position paper on Russia-Ukraine may likely reiterate President Xi Jinping’s important propositions, including that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld, the legitimate security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously, and all efforts conducive to a peaceful resolution of the crisis should be supported. It will be reiterated that a nuclear war must never be fought and can never be won.

The paper is expected to call on all efforts to ensure the safety of civil nuclear facilities, stand against attacks on nuclear power plants, and advocate joint efforts of opposition against the use of biochemical weapons.

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