China was ‘suckered’ into a diplomatic catastrophe

President Xi’s geopolitical game-plan has been shredded by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine

China’s geopolitical game-plan has been shredded by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Instead of shattering the liberal world order, President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked attack on the democratic Eastern European nation has strengthened the resolve of the free world.

The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have rallied to Ukraine’s cause along with allies across Asia and the rest of the world.

Eastern borders of NATO have been strengthened as members in the frontline fear a Russian backlash.

Economic-strangling sanctions have been imposed on Putin’s government, while military and humanitarian aid has started arriving in beleaguered Ukraine.

As the war enters a second week, Russia has become an international pariah, triggering protests across the country.

For China, the war has been an alarming wake-up call and a diplomatic catastrophe after that fanfare summit between President Xi Jinping and Putin on the eve of the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this month.

The communique that followed has highlighted Comrade Xi’s flawed foreign policy.  

“After that statement that ties Xi so closely to Putin, the US and others are bound to punish China for enabling Russia’s aggression,” Susan Shirk, a former US State Department official, said.

“But it’s also harder for China to signal to the world that it doesn’t support Russia’s move. Looks like Putin suckered Xi,” Shirk, of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, pointed out as reported by The New York Times.

It is likely that Xi is rethinking issues [such as] how close should China be to Russia.

Malcolm Riddell, founder of consultancy ChinaDebate

Standing firm:

  • Russia has been hit by a punitive raft of sanctions.
  • Military and humanitarian aid has been sent or pledged by the US, the EU and its allies.
  • Even Germany has reversed its historic policy by agreeing to send weapons to Ukraine and beefing up its defence budget.
  • As for China, it has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion.
  • Instead, state media has blamed the US, the EU and the broader ideology of the West for the conflict.

Alternative viewpoint: “As more and more Ukrainians realize that the US and the West can hardly be reliable partners, they would understand the position of China which promotes a political settlement for the issue rather than creating and shifting the crisis and trying to benefit from it,” state-run Global Times said in an editorial.

Alternative history: “China believes that the Ukraine issue has a complicated history and that the legitimate security concerns of all parties should be respected,” Global Times stressed.

Alternative planet: Views like those expressed by a media controlled by the ruling Communist Party of China simply do not stack up. The EU and other European nations have closed their airspace to Russian aircraft. State media outlets, such as Russia Today and Sputnik, have been banned for spreading propaganda “lies.”

Delve deeper: “The EU has expressed unequivocal support for Ukraine becoming a member of the bloc, calling the country now under attack from Russia ‘one of us’,” Reuters news agency reported at the weekend.

Big picture: The diplomatic uproar engulfing Moscow will have reverberated in Beijing’s halls of power. Instead of weakening the concept of unity through democracy, Russia’s attack has strengthened it.

Control, alt, delete: “As [Xi] watches Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the world’s reactions, it is likely that Xi is rethinking issues from how close should China be to Russia; to how to deal with a much-galvanized band of democratic allies; to how the world would react to an invasion of Taiwan; and more,” Malcolm Riddell, the founder of consultancy ChinaDebate, said.

China Factor comment: The big question is will China prop up Russia’s crumbling rouble, and offer financial and economic aid? Or, will Xi refuse to be “suckered” again.