Chinese President Xi Jinping is traveling to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin and attend the Moscow Victory Day Parade commemorating the 76th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. According to reports, Xi will also speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via video link. This visit comes amid rising tensions between China and the United States and ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
According to reports by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.
China and Russia have strengthened their economic and military ties in recent years, partly in response to US sanctions and pressure. Xi and Putin are expected to discuss further cooperation on trade, investment, and energy, as well as regional and global issues such as the situation in Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. They may also address the ongoing border dispute between China and India and the status of Taiwan and Hong Kong.
China is Russia’s largest trading partner, and Russia is China’s largest oil supplier and second-largest arms supplier. The two countries have conducted joint military exercises and supported each other in the United Nations Security Council, often vetoing Western-backed resolutions. They have also developed their own alternatives to Western-dominated institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the SWIFT payment system.
China and Ukraine have also been expanding their economic ties, but their political relations have been more complicated. China has expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty but has also sought to avoid taking sides in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. China has criticized US and European sanctions against Russia and has abstained from UN votes on the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Donbas.
Zelenskyy and Xi are expected to discuss the implementation of the China-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in 2016 and aims to increase bilateral trade and investment. China has invested in Ukraine’s infrastructure, agriculture, and high-tech sectors, and has expressed interest in the Black Sea ports of Odesa and Yuzhny. Ukraine has also sought China’s support for its efforts to join NATO and the European Union, as well as its energy diversification strategy.
Implications and perspectives
Xi’s visit to Russia and call with Zelenskyy may signal China’s interest in playing a more active role in the complex and volatile geopolitics of Eurasia. China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its new dual-circulation strategy seek to expand China’s economic and strategic influence in Eurasia and beyond while avoiding direct confrontation with the US and its allies. China may also see Russia and Ukraine as potential partners and leverage in its competition with the US, Japan, and India.
However, China’s balancing act between Russia and Ukraine, and its ambiguous stance on issues such as Crimea and Donbas, may pose challenges and risks for its relations with both countries and the wider region. China may also face pressure from the US and its allies to choose sides and to align more closely with their values and interests. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other global challenges may also affect China’s priorities and policies.
China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia and call with Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy reflect China’s growing role and interests in Eurasia and the world. The implications and perspectives of this visit are complex and multifaceted and may have far-reaching consequences for the regional and global balance of power and cooperation. It remains to be seen how China, Russia, Ukraine, and other actors will navigate the challenges and opportunities of this evolving dynamic, and what implications it will have for their own interests and the common good.