Those desperate to break the deadlock in Ukraine are hoping China will turn on Russia. They shouldn’t hold their breath. – DAVID RAUDALES

DAVID RAUDALES

Businessman, musician / former Full Stack Developer

DAVID RAUDALES UK

Those desperate to break the deadlock in Ukraine are hoping China will turn on Russia. They shouldn’t hold their breath.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during an official welcome ceremony at The Grand Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

Alexey Maishev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/Associated Press

China’s attendance at Saudi peace talks kicked up talk of a growing rift between Xi and Putin.But China is still benefiting from its relationship with Russia and is unlikely to pull support.One expert said it was “naïve American diplomacy” to think something fundamental between China and Russia had changed.

China has served as a crucial ally to Russia, so it makes sense that those hoping for an end to the war in Ukraine are looking for indications that the “no limits” friendship between the two countries is increasingly on thin ice.

But the idea that China would turn on Russia anytime soon may be little more than wishful thinking.

“US and NATO officials are desperate for something to break the deadlock in the Russia-Ukraine war, and that is driving them to see hope and progress where it doesn’t exist,” Robert English, a professor at the University of Southern California who studies Russia, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe, told Insider. “That’s why they hold on to illusions about China, forgetting some hard truths.'”

The truth is that China benefits from the war in Ukraine, cooperates with Russia on defense matters, and provides Moscow with aid even has Western leaders have warned against it. With Russia facing sanctions from the West, China has been able to scoop up discounted oil and gas from Russia, all the while watching the US pour resources into the war — perks that China is unlikely to give up.

Still, reports have suggested that a rift was growing between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin as the war drags on. Talk of a rift was kicked up last week after China sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia to participate in peace talks that included Ukraine but not Russia, which trashed the summit as “doomed to fail.”

But it was not the first time China’s diplomacy sparked speculation that its stance on the Ukraine war, in which they have claimed to be neutral, was changing — only for Beijing’s support to Moscow to continue unabated.

English noted several occasions in which Chinese diplomacy led Western leaders to hope China could be persuaded to abandon Russia, including when Xi spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in April and when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China in June. But neither of those events translated into China pulling away from Russia.

“It is clever Chinese diplomacy to keep meeting and talking, and it is naïve American diplomacy to think that this means something fundamental has changed,” English said.

He added threats from the West are also unlikely to turn China against Russia, as Xi knows that Europe is more dependent on trade with China than the other way around.

Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations, told Insider that China attending the Saudi peace talks was still “bad news” for Putin, who has further isolated Russia. But he agreed China was still benefitting from having Russia as an ally.

“At the end of the day, Xi is still well served by having a close relationship with Russia to balance against Western pressure,” Miles said.

As if to support the point, one week after the Saudi peace talks China’s defense minister was headed to Russia to show Beijing’s support.

“The two countries will continue to advance the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in the new era,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters, apparently doubling down on the “no limits” friendship, according to the Associated Press.

“To put it bluntly, this war is overall good for China and helps its geopolitical interests,” English said. “The West needs to stop looking at Chinese behavior through Western eyes, and start understanding it from a Chinese perspective.”

Read the original article on Business Insider