On the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine War, China’s Foreign Ministry published a 12-point position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. In the first article of the document, China defended the territorial integrity of Ukraine by demanding “respect for the sovereignty of all countries”. As it seen that the document is mostly against Russia’s interests. So, it is wondered how Russia’s relations with China will progress from now on.
From this point of view, Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) presents the views it received from Andreea Brinza, co-founder and vice-president of the Romanian Institute for the Study of the Asia-Pacific (RISAP), in order to evaluate China’s views on the political solution of the Ukraine Crisis, Russia’s possible reaction towards China and the future of bilateral relations.
- In its peace plan, China wants Ukraine’s sovereignty to be respected. How do you think Russia will react to this call from China?
Unfortunately, I can’t say for sure how Russia will react as I am not an expert on Russia. But because China remains its only important ally, it is unlikely that Russia will be angry with China for its “peace plan”.
- Do you think that China has been neutral from the very beginning of the Russia-Ukraine War?
I think we should analyze China’s position regarding the Russia-Ukraine war from two perspectives: actions and rhetoric. China was very vocal against the US and NATO, thus supporting Russia in its information warfare, but apart from some dual-use goods sent to Russia, China didn’t get involved in the war. Basically, we can say that China was neutral when it came to providing military support or concrete assistance to Russia in this war, like North Korea, Iran or Syria did, but wasn’t neutral when it came to the narrative about the culprit and the causes of the war, in which it took Russia’s side, though it might have been more a case of promoting anti-US propaganda, than pro-Russia propaganda.
- Do you think that China honestly and sincerely wants the end of the Russia-Ukraine War?
While the war brought China and Russia closer economically, it also affected the Chinese economy and especially China’s image around the globe. Based on these aspects, I think China would prefer that the war would end, but it would prefer if it ends without a Russian defeat and it certainly wants to avoid a deterioration of China-Russia ties, if Russia would perceive China as pressuring it into a peace agreement.
- The West is confident that China sided with Russia. Due to this reason, could China have published this document to prove its neutrality in this war? Do you think China mislead or deceive the West about this issue?
For many, many years China was accused that it isn’t involved very much in trying to solve the world’s problems, as a great power should do, and starting with the war in Ukraine, China was accused of supporting Russia and not playing any role in ending this war. So, I think that by publishing this document China is trying to create the image that it is neutral and that it wants to do something to “solve” the war in Ukraine and bring peace. But they are just empty words that resemble a lot China’s general narratives over the years (e.g. respecting sovereignty, abandoning the Cold War mentality, etc.), but they don’t bring any innovative solution or feasible idea to encourage peace talks.
- What are your predictions about the future of China-Russia relations? Do you think Xi Jinping can go to Moscow in the coming months, accepting the invitation of Vladimir Putin?
Unfortunately, the world is rearranging again into blocks of power. We have the Western-liberal world and the illiberal world of Russia and China and other allies of the two. For the moment, these two countries are the other’s most important ally and since the 1990s the trend in their relations has been one of improvement. The Russian invasion of Ukraine created some difficulties for China, but the desire for closer relations has remained unchanged. So, I assume that Putin and Xi will meet and they will continue to improve Russia-China relations.
Andreea Brinza is co-founder and vice-president of the first Romanian think-tank which analyses the Asia-Pacific region, Romanian Institute for the Study of the Asia-Pacific (RISAP). Andreea earned her PhD in International Relations with the thesis on “Belt and Road Initiative”, at the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, in Bucharest, Romania (2022). Her research focuses on the geopolitics and geoeconomics of China and especially on the Belt and Road Initiative. She also writes articles about China and the BRI for publications like Foreign Policy, the South China Morning Post, The Diplomat, Nikkei Asia or others. She also manages RISAP’s Facebook Page and organize events. During RISAP’s internship programs, she also coordinated the team of interns.