Xi Jinping tweaks China’s position on Ukraine war, goes the Russia way

By, New Delhi
Mar 21, 2023 09:30 AM IST

In his article published in a Russian newspaper on Monday, Chinese President Xi has talked about addressing legitimate security concerns of all countries in the context of the Ukraine war, while bypassing the formal Chinese position of respecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries.

On the eve of his three-day visit to Moscow, Chinese President Xi Jinping tweaked Beijing’s formal position on Ukraine by effectively siding with Moscow on “respect of legitimate security concerns of all countries” while conveniently bypassing “respecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” of all countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a three day bilateral visit to Russia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a three day bilateral visit to Russia.

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Watch: West alarmed as Xi tweaks China's position on war; Putin-Jinping hold marathon talks

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s article appeared in the Russian newspaper Pravda, while an article written by Russian President Vladimir Putin was simultaneously published in the People’s Daily in China. Both the leaders have referred to the Ukraine war in their opinion pieces and converged on directly or indirectly attacking the US for its role in the ongoing war.

While President Putin has launched a broadside against the US-led NATO for the Ukraine war and expanding in eastern Europe, the position taken by Chinese President Xi Jinping on the Ukraine war is quite interesting and a divergence on the formal Chinese position on a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis released on one year of the on-going conflict on February 24, 2023. The formal Chinese position released by the Foreign Ministry talks about respecting the sovereignty of all countries upfront. It stated: “Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld…..Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected.”

However, in his published article, President Xi stated: “ I have put forward several proposals (in the context of the Ukraine war), i.e. observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect of legitimate security concerns of all countries….” The article does not mention respecting the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of all countries as this is counter to the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February 24. Simply put, the articles by both the leaders show convergence on the Ukraine war and on opposing the US-led western powers.

In his article President Xi stated: “Our world is confronted with complex and intertwined and non-traditional security challenges, damaging acts of hegemony, domination and bullying, and long and torturous global economic recovery.” He goes on to say that no single country should dictate the international order and pushes for a multi-polar world after making it clear that the China-Russia alliance is not targeted against any third country. President Xi does not mention the US by name in the published piece as per its English translation.

President Putin was more forthright in his article and has attacked the US for adopting a dual containment strategy against both Russia and China. He stated: “The United States has adopted a dual containment policy against Russia and China, trying to contain any country that does not submit to the instructions of the US, and is becoming more and more rampant. The architecture of international security and cooperation is being dismantled. Russia has been declared an imminent threat, which China has been called a strategic competitor.”

The Russian President blames the west for provoking the Ukraine crisis and accuses it for continuing to add fuel to fire. “ It is obvious to all that NATO is trying to expand its activities on a global scale, with an eye on infiltrating the Asia-Pacific region…”

It is evident from the articles of the two leaders that China and Russia have synergized their positions on the Ukraine war and are moving towards “no limits” across spectrum bilateral cooperation as a possible bulwark against the US-led western powers. No wonder the two countries have attacked the QUAD and taken a similar position on the Indo-Pacific.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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