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China’s Attitude within the G20 Talks

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The G20 Summit, which took place on the Indonesian island of Bali on 15-16 November 2022, hosted leaders, and representatives from all over the world. State leaders’ meetings with each other and their statements to the press drew the attention of the world to the summit. One of the leaders who attracted attention during the summit was Chinese President Xi Jinping. Because it is possible to draw inferences about China’s foreign policy from the talks and statements made by Jinping.

Jinping maintained its uncompromising stance on Taiwan throughout the summit. The Taiwan issue is a problem that the Beijing administration has faced since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and has been constantly brought to the agenda by the Western states. At the point of solving the problem, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is in favour of implementing the “one country, two systems” structure; Taiwan considers itself an independent country. This conflict between China and Taiwan often comes before the Chinese Government as a problem. In the face of this issue, which was once again brought up at the G20 Summit, Jinping reiterated that Taiwan is the red line.[1]

On the other hand, it is seen that Jinping used a balanced discourse on the Russia-Ukraine War at the summit. The Chinese leader has not taken a clear stance in favour of either Ukraine or Russia. He made a joint statement with the President of the United States of America (USA) Joe Biden, stating that “a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won”[2] only at the point of use of nuclear weapons. However, it is also remembered that Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in October 2022 that nuclear weapons would not be used in Ukraine.[3] Therefore, Jinping’s statement with Biden does not contain a message that contradicts Russia. In other words, China continues its covert support to Russia. Already, world leaders are disturbed by China’s policy towards Ukraine and North Korea.

As a reflection of the above-mentioned issues, at the G20 Summit, Western leaders conveyed their ideas to Jinping in order for China to play a more active role in related issues. In this context, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez asked Jinping to use his influence over Putin to help end the war in Ukraine.[4] Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron demanded that China be a mediator in his meeting with Jinping.[5] Biden, on the other hand, asked Jinping to intervene in the issue so that North Korea would stop its nuclear tests. Taking a “neutral” stance on Ukraine upon the requests, Jinping once again repeated his rhetoric regarding North Korea that he could not interfere in the internal affairs of other states.

It is quite important that the channels of dialogue with a state remain open, with or without consensus. Considering that Russia maintains a dialogue with a small number of states and avoids meeting with state leaders at summits, the idea of Chinese mediation is on plausible ground.

In addition, the fact that Jinping met with the leaders of the states with which China had some problems in bilateral relations, such as the US and Australia, is proof that Beijing pays attention to keep diplomatic channels open.

Economy was also among the topics discussed in the talks. During his meeting with Biden, Jinping stated that “starting a trade or technology war between the USA and China, building walls and barriers and trying to separate supply chains are against the principles of market economy and undermines international trade rules”[6], and Jinping is doing his best to avoid any negativity that will disrupt the Chinese economy. In this context, his messages were in this direction.

As a result, it can be said that within the frame of the developments at the G20 summit, China continues its relations with the states in the scope of economic and commercial cooperation and stays away from politically problematic areas. However, Western states are uncomfortable with this attitude of the Beijing administration and want China to act more actively in solving problems. But China seems to refrain from taking responsibility as long as it does not face the perception of threat, economic damage, and similar issues.


[1] “China’s Xi tells Biden: Taiwan Issue is ‘First Red Line’ That Must not be Crossed”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/chinas-xi-tells-biden-taiwan-issue-is-first-red-line-that-must-not-be-crossed-2022-11-14/, (Erişim Tarihi: 15.11.2022).

[2] “Biden Meets China’s Xi Jinping at G-20 Summit in Indonesia, Raises US Concerns About Taiwan, Hong Kong, Putin”, Fox News, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-meets-chinas-xi-jinping-g20-summit-indonesia-raises-us-concerns-taiwan-hong-kong-putin, (Erişim Tarihi: 17.11.2022).

[3] “Russia’s Putin Says He Won’t Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine”, AP News, https://apnews.com/article/putin-europe-government-and-politics-c541449bf88999c117b033d2de08d26d, (Erişim Tarihi: 17.11.2022).

[4] “Spanish PM Urges China’s Xi to Use Influence over Putin to End Ukraine War”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/spanish-pm-urges-chinas-xi-use-influence-over-putin-end-ukraine-war-2022-11-15/, (Erişim Tarihi: 17.11.2022).

[5] “French President Plans Beijing Trip to Seek China’s Help Mediating Russia’s War on Ukraine”, South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3199886/french-president-plans-beijing-trip-seek-chinas-help-mediate-russias-war-ukraine, (Erişim Tarihi: 17.11.2022).

[6] “Şi: Ticaret veya Teknoloji Savaşı Kimsenin Çıkarına Değil”, Borsamatik, https://www.borsamatik.com.tr/si-ticaret-veya-teknoloji-savasi-kimsenin-cikarina-degil-haber-149245, (Erişim Tarihi:17.11.2022)

Neslihan TOPCU
Neslihan Topcu, 2017 yılında Adnan Menderes Üniversitesi Siyaset Bilimi ve Kamu Yönetimi bölümünden mezun olmuş ve ardından aynı üniversitenin Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda yüksek lisans eğitimine başlamıştır. Yüksek lisans derecesini elde ettiği “Çin’in Enerji Güvenliği Politikaları” başlıklı tezi, 2020 yılında kitap olarak da yayınlanmıştır. 2016 senesinde Litvanya’daki Kazimieras Simonavičius Üniversitesi’nde ve 2019 yılında da Portekiz’deki Minho Üniversitesi’nde eğitim alan Topçu, halihazırda Selçuk Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. Asya Pasifik, enerji güvenliği ve devletlerin uzay politikalarıyla ilgili çalışmaları çeşitli dergilerde ve kitaplarda yayınlanmış olan Topçu, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede İspanyolca bilmektedir.