By: Joseph F Kailie

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China’s pre-eminent position has been above all else to respect the sovereignty of all countries, which is further espoused in the non-interference policy in the domestic affairs of other countries.

 Additionally, this principle is amplified in its adherence to the rules based universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, which must be strictly observed.

From China`s view point, the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld.

 According to China`s foreign policy, all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community.

Therefore, all parties in the Ukraine/Russia crisis (including the belligerents) should jointly uphold the basic norms governing international relations and defend international fairness and justice.

 In conjunction to the foregoing, equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards as normally pursued by the United States in its foreign policy objectives must be totally rejected.

In 2001, 2003 and 2011 the United States and its western NATO allies invaded and toppled legitimate and internationally recognized governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya respectively.

In the above scenarios, the US had its way in what could only be regarded as a blatant and flagrant violation of the principle of international law. In addition, the US has supported, sustained and bolstered the illegal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist regime of Israel which continues to massacre and inflict brazen acts of human rights abuses on the people of Palestine for over 75years.   

Since United States hypocrisy seems incomparable to any other, it is coercing or simply applying political and economic pressure in getting the rest of the world to condemn or apply economic sanctions on Russia; in what the Kremlin could only describe as a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In particular, the Chinese government has been singled out for criticism from Washington. The Chinese government has been the subject of international criticism (particularly from the United States) for failing to condemn the invasion and to impose any sanctions on Russia. Finger pointing from the US goes to the extreme in accusing China of aiding and abetting Russia`s war effort in Ukraine through the provision of war materials.

 Contrary to the United States objective of demonizing China, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he was satisfied with the policy of neutrality, stating that “China has chosen the policy of staying away. At the moment, Ukraine is satisfied with this policy. It is better than helping the Russian Federation in any case. And I want to believe that China will not pursue another policy. We are satisfied with this status quo, to be honest”.

On 24 February 2023, China issued a twelve-point peace plan outline, calling for a cease fire and peace talks. The same day, Zelenskyy indicated he was willing to consider aspects of the proposal while Russia’s foreign ministry stated that it welcomed the Chinese proposal Zelenskyy stated that he planned to meet Xi because it would be useful to both countries and global security. Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said “we paid a lot of attention to our Chinese friends’ plan”, but new “territorial realities could not be ignored” as these realities became “an internal factor” (for Russia). Peskov then rejected the Chinese peace proposal, saying that “for now, we don’t see any of the conditions that are needed to bring this whole story towards peace”.

 On the other hand, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken questioned China’s peace proposal, saying “the world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms.”

During the 2023 Belarus-China summit, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Xi jointly stated “deep concern about the development of the armed conflict in the European region and displayed extreme interest in the soonest possible establishment of peace in Ukraine”.

International reactions:

Joseph Torigian of the American University described the Chinese government’s position on the invasion as a “balancing act,” stating that “both countries hold similarly negative views about America’s role in Europe and Asia” but that China would not be willing to put its financial interests at risk to support Russia, especially given that China was “trying to preserve its reputation as a responsible stakeholder.” Ryan Hass of the Brookings Institution has argued that “without Russia, the thinking goes, China would be alone to deal with a hostile west determined to obstruct China’s rise,” but that the two countries “do not have perfectly aligned interests. China has a lot more to lose than Russia. China sees itself as a country on the rise with momentum behind it. Russia is fighting the tides of decline.

Several commentators have foreseen a potential role for China as a key mediator in the conflict, as it did recently in brokering peace with two sworn enemies in the middle east-Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Érick Duchesne of the Université Laval has argued that “strategic indistinctness on the part of China could have a beneficial effect and help untie the Gordian knot of the crisis” and that it would be a “a serious mistake” for NATO countries to oppose Chinese mediation. Zeno Leoni of King’s College London argued that “should China lead parties involved to a new peace, it would be a major diplomatic and public relations victory for Beijing,” as the Chinese government “would be able to present itself as a responsible great power and to convince the west that in future they might have to rely on Beijing’s global influence at a time when US influence is declining.”

Other commentators have stated that the Chinese response to the invasion has played a role in shaping the Indian response. Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution has argued that one of India’s “foreign policy objectives are to keep Russia from getting even closer to China.”

 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused China of providing political support to Russia, “including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation,” and expressed concern that “China could provide material support for the Russian invasion.” On 9 July 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed China’s claims to be neutral in the Russo-Ukrainian War and accused China of supporting Russia.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that China has the economic leverage to pressure Putin to end the war, adding, “I’m sure that without the Chinese market for the Russian Federation, Russia would be feeling complete economic isolation. That’s something that China can do – to limit the trade with Russia until the war is over.” In August 2022, Zelenskyy said that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Xi Jinping had refused all his requests for direct talks with him.

Is China providing Russia with weapons?

China has become an increasingly important trading partner for Russia as it seeks to soften the impact of economic sanctions imposed by some countries in response to its invasion.

The United States has said Beijing is considering supplying weapons and ammunition to Russia, allegations which China strongly denies.

China has been expanding its military production capabilities and is now the world’s fourth largest arms exporter.

“China’s weapons are getting more advanced now,” says Siemon Wezeman from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

“Its drones, for example, are one area that Russia would be very interested in.”

The US says Chinese firms have already provided “non-lethal support” to Russia, and that it has new information suggesting Beijing could soon provide “lethal support”.

Maria Shagina, an expert in economic sanctions at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, says China has not overtly supplied Russia with weapons but may be secretly selling it hi-tech products which could be used for military purposes.

“There is evidence that China is the biggest exporter of semiconductors – often through shell companies in Hong Kong and the UAE – to Russia,” she says.

“Some Chinese companies are also supplying civilian drones, exploiting the grey space between military and civilian purposes.”

The US-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies says Chinese companies may be sending Russia electronic parts for anti-aircraft missile radars.

The US has also imposed sanctions on a Chinese company which Washington says has provided satellite imagery in support of Russian mercenary forces fighting in Ukraine.

In reacting to the accusations of supplying Russia with Lethal weapons in her war efforts with Ukraine, China categorically stated that Washington has “no right” to point fingers at Beijing’s relations with Russia.

“China has been actively promoting peace talks and political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. The US has no right to point fingers at China-Russia relations and we do not accept coercion,” said Mao Ning, spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry.

“The US has not only continued to send lethal weapons to the battlefield in Ukraine but also continued to sell weapons to China’s Taiwan region in violation of the Three China-US joint Communiqués. What does the US really want?” Mao asked, according to the Chinese daily Global Times.

About US sanctions against Chinese companies accused of “backing Russia,” Mao said: “We will take firm countermeasures and firmly safeguard Chinese companies’ interest.”

Mao urged the US to stop “spreading misinformation” and lift sanctions.

In order to end the war China has repeatedly called for “peace-loving” nations to act to end the conflict.

 “It is the United States and not China that is endlessly shipping weapons to the battlefield,” Wang said. “We urge the United States to earnestly reflect on its own actions and do more to alleviate the situation, promote peace and dialogue, and stop shifting blame and spreading false information.”

Wang Wenbin said the US was “in no position to make demands of China”.

He also pointed to Beijing’s “collaborative partnership” with Moscow, which he said was built on the basis of non-alignment and non-confrontation.

 “We would like a political solution to provide a peaceful and sustainable framework to Europe,” Wang said in Hungary.

Wang further stated that the world was afflicted by disorder and wars and “peace-loving countries should bring the current hostilities to a halt as soon as possible”.

China has also told the United Nations that over a year into the Ukraine war, “brutal facts offer an ample proof that sending weapons will not bring peace” – a statement that comes just days after the United States and NATO warned Beijing against giving Russia military support.

“Adding fuel to the fire will only exacerbate tensions. Prolonging and expanding the conflict will only make ordinary people pay an even heftier price,” China’s UN Deputy Ambassador Dai Bing told the UN General Assembly.

The comments came hours before the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace” and demanding Russia withdraw its troops and stop fighting.

The resolution was adopted with 141 votes in favour and 32 abstentions. Six countries joined Russia to vote no.

Dai was speaking at the UN a day after China’s top diplomat Wang Yi visited Moscow and pledged a deeper partnership with Russia.

“I will repeat it again China is not providing arms for Russia and it will not provide arms to Russia because it’s part of their foreign policy not to arm parties in a conflict,” he said. “We have to remain vigilant.”

China’s Ambassador Dai said, “We stand ready to continue playing a constructive role in resolving the Ukraine crisis, and bring about peace at an early date.”

Since Moscow invaded its neighbour, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly hinted that Russia could use a nuclear weapon if threatened.

“Nuclear weapons cannot be used, nuclear war cannot be fought,” Dai said. “All parties should join together against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, prevent nuclear proliferation and avoid a nuclear crisis.”


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