Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, is on his way to Moscow on a three-day trip. The visit of Xi is a much-anticipated one, as this visit is marked by Beijing as a voyage of friendship, peace, and cooperation between the two countries. Beijing characterised this trip as a visit that will improve governance worldwide and contribute to the progress and development of the world too.
On this trip, Xi is scheduled to have a meeting with both Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Both the leaders of China and Russia will be talking about taking their partnership to a stronger level and will also sign several other bilateral treaties as well.
China, after receiving credit for mediating the deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, is now looking to further strengthen its diplomatic standing in global stage by re-establishing ties between other nations. It is forecasted that China will now be looking forward to play an active role as mediator between Russia and Ukraine.
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Velina Tchakarova, an Austrian geopolitical expert, said, “China, after negotiating the Iran-Saudi Arabia issue, now wants to at least start the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine under its mediation, so that it can capitalise its credits. That’s why Xi is heading toward Russia at this point in the crisis.”
She added, “This trip will be used by both China and Russia as the means of amplifying anti-US and anti-western narratives. At the same time, both of these countries will show that they have great bonds and bilateral relationships between themselves. These points are very crucial from Beijing’s perspective, as China is on the verge of building relationships with countries that have negative diplomatic relations with the US.”
How can China mediate between Russia and Ukraine?
Since last year, China has consistently tried to present itself as a neutral party and hasn’t taken any of the party’s side in any circumstance. Rather, this country continuously tried to push both Russia and Ukraine to start peace negotiations and urged both countries to stop their cold war mentality. Though China, in the last month, outlined its war-based position through a 12-point document, many western countries remain unconvinced about the country’s intention. Moreover, China has continuously tried to increase its relations with Moscow.
The United States in fact expressed their worry that China might send lethal weapons to Russia for the Ukraine case. But the Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, wasn’t convinced of the US’ point, and he said that China didn’t go that far.
According to Andrew Small, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund (GMF), “though Beijing wants to stand as a mediator in the Ukraine-Russia case, we doubt that it would be willing to push either of these two parties to pursue peace discussions at this stage of the war. If China really wants to do that, then it should do this in Russia’s favour and push Russia to talk on the peace issue first, but there are no such indications so far from any part.”
A China analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Justyna Szczudlik, also said, “If China wants to uphold itself as a mediator, then it will only do so to push wedges between the US and European countries. As China already knows that what Washington thinks about China is not going to change any time soon from a war perspective, they are now just trying to do something to change the perception of Europe thereby.
He added, “Although China wants to promote itself as a reconcilliator and a body that promotes peace, its position on the Russia and Ukraine issues is much clearer, as the country still hasn’t condemned Russia for its brutality in the Ukraine. As far as China doesn’t tell Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, it will not be able to become a mediator in this case.”
What will this trip bring?
Though western countries are still unconvinced about China, Ukraine still thinks China can play a crucial role in mediating their on-going fight with Russia. The call of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to China about joining a summit to talk about the peace formula is another proof of it.
Experts say, “The call that is going to take place between Zelensky and Xi is the means to promote the dissolution of the war, if Zelensky can take any message from it and talk about incorporating some pressures on Russia from China’s side.”
As the last visit of China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, last month disclosed their “rock-solid” relationship talks, the western countries now think that China is going to take Russia’s side in upcoming times due to its friendship reasons. At the same time, China will hold their relationship tight, no matter how the situation takes place, according to these experts.
Moreover, at the time of US sanctions against Russia, China remained one of Russia’s top trading partners. Beijing at this point bought the largest portion of oil from Russia, and their trade also increased by about 34.3%, according to Chinese state media outlet Global Times.
Experts are saying that China now needs to handle this trip very carefully, as many points depend on it, including western perception and relations between them and Russia.