In terms of the Ukraine war, China currently has little to gain, but much to lose. The future steps will therefore be well considered. Arms supplies to Russia are risky, but perhaps necessary at some point.
So far, Beijing has been fairly neutral on Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. On the one hand, they want to gain international reputation (eg with peace initiatives), on the other hand, Western sanctions as a result of arms deliveries to Moscow could hinder the economic upswing. On the other hand, the communist leadership cannot afford for Russia to lose the war and possibly even collapse internally.
Beijing is well aware that once Putin’s Russia falls, they themselves will become Washington’s next target – and without having to diversify forces as much as they are doing now. So one will try to prevent such a defeat. This is still limited to the expansion of economic relations (so that the Russian economy does not collapse) and to diplomatic advances. But what if that is no longer enough? What if the Russian troops depend on supplies of arms and ammunition from abroad?
It can be assumed that the Chinese leadership will carefully consider all steps in this regard. Should weapons and ammunition be delivered, the argument will be that the West is also sending such deliveries to Ukraine. However, a Russian success in Ukraine would also meet China’s goals of reshaping world politics and the global balance of power. It could also facilitate China’s own rise as an economic and military leader.
In February 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Beijing Winter Olympics. They issued a joint document calling for a reshaping of world politics. The detailed statement sets out shared values and a vision for a world without the United States as a major leader, in which China and Russia gain more control and influence. The foreign ministers of China and Russia met on March 2, 2023, and the Chinese government issued a statement reiterating this point, saying that the two countries “maintain solid and steady development and a new paradigm for a new species of relationships between great countries”.
This also makes it clear that if Russia’s military situation deteriorates, China will not be able to avoid the corresponding deliveries. But as long as possible, it will not happen to prevent further global upheavals from Western sanctions.
Leave a Reply