What is China’s game plan in Ukraine? – Times of India

BEIJING: China plays an increasingly prominent role on the sidelines of Russia’s war in Ukraine as the conflict enters its second year.
From a “stance” on resolving the war to allegations that Beijing is considering arms to Russia and meeting with Moscow’s close allies, here’s an overview of China’s growing say in the conflict:
For much of the war, China portrayed itself as a neutral party while maintaining close ties with Russia.
Chinese state-owned companies have sold non-lethal drones and other equipment to both Russia and Ukraine, forcing Moscow to turn to Iran for armaments.
However, Washington believes this is about to change, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying last month that China is “considering deadly support” for Russia.
Beijing quickly denied the claims, accusing the United States of “fanning the fire” of the war with massive arms shipments to the Ukrainian government.
The United States has yet to provide concrete evidence that China is considering sending weapons to Russia, but experts have told AFP there is some credibility to the claims – and that Beijing’s entry into the conflict could be a “game changer”.
China has faced increasing calls from the West over the past year to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine.
In an effort to portray itself as a mediator, Beijing last week unveiled a 12-point document to bring peace, which includes respecting the territorial sovereignty of all countries.
Timed to coincide with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, the document urged all sides to “support Russia and Ukraine to work in the same direction and resume direct dialogue as soon as possible”.
But the paper, while praised by the United Nations and Russia, was immediately met with skepticism from Ukraine’s allies, with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg saying Beijing “doesn’t have much credibility because they haven’t been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.” .
And Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at Germany’s Marshall Fund, told AFP the document was “largely a summary of China’s statements over the past year.”
“Beijing still claims NATO is the cause of the war and refused to condemn the Russian invasion. This is old wine in a semi-new bottle,” Glaser said.
While Beijing expresses its neutral stance, Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko this week.
As one of Putin’s few reliable foreign partners, Lukashenko could provide Beijing with up-to-date insights into the developing situation in Ukraine, potentially influencing China’s strategy in this regard.
Economic ties between Belarus and China steadily strengthened until the pandemic and invasion of Russia disrupted supply chains and the global economy on a massive scale.
Belarus was used by Russia as a military staging post for its large-scale attack on Ukraine last February, sparking a protracted conflict.
Xi and Lukashenko formally declared their countries as “all-weather, all-inclusive partners” last September, and the Belarusian leader’s visit to Beijing is likely aimed at returning bilateral ties to their pre-2020 trajectory.
On the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed a desire to meet with Xi to discuss Beijing’s proposals to resolve the crisis.
“I really want to believe that China will not supply arms to Russia,” Zelensky said.
China’s foreign ministry has yet to provide details of a possible meeting between the two sides, repeatedly claiming that they are “maintaining close communication with relevant parties”.
Zelensky welcomed China’s 12-point document, a position echoed by Russia’s foreign ministry, which said it “shares Beijing’s view.”
The Ukrainian president would likely use a meeting to urge Beijing to exert its influence over Russia and take meaningful steps to resolve the conflict.
But so far China has shown no signs of such intentions, Elizabeth Wishnick, a senior research scholar at Columbia’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute, told AFP.
“On the contrary, (President Xi) is considering a visit to Moscow and continues to parrot Russian propaganda about US and NATO responsibility for the war,” Wishnick said.

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