At the request of US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping had a video call with Biden on March 18, 2022 (Desheng, 2022). This video call contains significant clues that reveal China’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine War. In order to understand them, at first, prominent views, benefiting from Desheng’s article, related to the subject will be mentioned in this study, and then, China’s stance will be tried to be clarified.
Biden, pointing out the US-China dialogue took place at a critical time, stated that the relation between the US and China will shape the world in the 21st century. Taking into account the prominent sensitivities in Chinese foreign policy, Biden highlighted that the US is not looking for a new Cold War with China, does not aim to change China’s system, and, the revitalization of the US alliances in the region does not target China. Expressing that the US does not support “Taiwan’s independence”, Biden also emphasized they do not intend to seek a conflict with China. In addition, Biden stated that the US is ready to cooperate more closely with China, adhere to the one-China policy, and effectively manage the competition and disagreements between the two countries.
Pointing out there are important developments in the international environment, Xi said that he took Biden’s statements very seriously. The Chinese President highlighted that China and the US should not only to improve their relations on the right track, but also to work for world peace and tranquility by taking international responsibilities. Expressing that the wrong handling of the Taiwan issue will have a devastating effect on bilateral relations, Xi stressed, he hopes the USA will give due importance to this issue. Underlining there are and will continue to be differences between China and the US, Xi said, “The important thing is to keep these differences under control. An ever-growing relationship between their countries is in the interest of both parties.”
After President Biden expressed his readiness to communicate with China to prevent the situation in Ukraine from getting worse, Xi stated that China advocates peace and opposes war, and this stance stems from China’s history and culture. Stating that China defends the universally accepted norms managing international law and international relations; Xi emphasized, they adhere to the UN Charter and support a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable vision of security.
Underlining the need for all parties to jointly support Russia and Ukraine for negotiations that will produce results and led to peace, Xi said, it is necessary to take into account the security concerns of both, Russia and Ukraine. Xi stated, the United States and NATO should establish dialogue with Russia, to address the critical points of the Ukraine crisis,
Highlighting the negative impact of the war that could have on the world economy, Xi stated, “As leaders of major countries, we need to think about how to properly address global issues, keeping global stability, and the jobs and lives of billions of people in mind.” Emphasizing the comprehensive and indiscriminate sanctions will only make people suffer, Xi stated that if this tension escalates further, serious crises will be encountered in the global economy in trade, finance, energy, food, industry and supply chains.
” Referring to two Chinese sayings “It takes two hands to clap” and “He who ties the bell to the tiger must take it off, Xi stated, all parties should show political will to find an appropriate solution to meet urgent and long-term needs.
Xi said a sustainable solution would be possible if major countries respect each other, reject the Cold War mentality, avoid bloc conflict, and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture for the region and the world. “China has been doing her best for peace and will continue to play a constructive role,” Xi said.
Xi’s statements seem compatible with the main objectives of Chinese foreign policy. These objectives may be summarized as realizing modernization, creating a peaceful external environment and developing its own economy as a power ready to take more risks and responsibilities, in parallel with the principle, “Strive for success!” as stated earlier by Xi (Pekcan, 2019, p.51).
This video-call, which took place on the 22nd day of the Russia-Ukraine War, shows that the USA has addressed China as a great power for the solution of the crisis, and reveals that the cooperation to be developed with China is considered important to affect the shaping of the 21st century. It may be possible to make China’s stance more clear in the ongoing war, considering approaches of both countries in the past, and the statements made by the President of China, as follows;
-China is against war, it is dependent on UN charter and international law, the crisis should be resolved through negotiations.
-Taiwan is a part of China. China cannot accept support of the US for Taiwan’s independence. Cooperation with China is conditional in this issue. A possible crisis in Taiwan will be created by the USA, benefiting the environment stemming from the Russia-Ukraine War, leads to the termination of China-the US relations.
-China supports the establishment of a sustainable security architecture in international arena, the current structure of the UN Security Council cannot solve international problems. This situation requires reconsideration of the UN’s status.
-The crisis may be solved by taking into account the security concerns of both countries, Russia and Ukraine. The USA should take responsibility for the solution, China is ready for it.
-The USA and NATO should focus on the real reason of the Russia-Ukraine war and negotiate with both countries. Russia alone cannot be held responsible for this war. The eastward expansion of NATO and the US policy of containment to Russia are still continuing.
-This war should not divide the countries into blocks at the global and regional level as happened in the Cold War period. The USA is trying to group countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and to circle China. In this context, the security pact (The AUKUS Pact) formed in September 2021, consisting of Australia, England and the USA, disturbs China.
-The leaders of Russia and Ukraine should show the political will to solve the ongoing crisis.
-China does not support indiscriminate sanctions to be imposed on Russia. The international economy and trade should not suffer.
After the annexation of Crimea, China does not want to lose Russia, taking into account the Russian-Chinese rapprochement that developed due to the sanctions of the West. On the other hand, China tries to maintain its relations with the West in a balanced position, considering the extent reached in the trade, and avoids opposing the West. The total amount of Europe’s import from China is 472.2 billion euros, as of 2021, and it exports to China 223.3 billion euros worth of goods (Eurostat, 2022). China-US trade volume, on the other hand, reached 615.2 billion dollars, by 2020. China’s export to the US is 450.4 billion dollars, and it’s import from the US reached 164.9 billion dollars (Office of the USA Trade Representative, 2022).
Being aware of her power in an environment of increasing economic interdependence at the global level, China is calmly monitoring developments and setting forth her demands/expectations with determination. The sanctions that the West will impose on Russia make this country, whose budget depends on oil and natural gas exports, a natural ally with China, which needs energy to sustain its economic growth. Being of neighbor countries strengthens the relation between China and Russia, and it seems that the winner of the Russia-Ukraine War in the long term will be China. The Asia-Pacific region stands out as a region that needs to be more concentrated in the context of international relations in the upcoming period.
Pekcan, C. (2019). Çin Dis Politikasi ve ABD ile iliskiler. Bursa Dora.