Recent participation of Chinese delegates in Saudi peace talks concerning the Ukraine conflict has fueled speculations about potential strains between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, China’s continuing benefits from its partnership with Russia and its geopolitical interests suggest that any hopes of a significant rift between the two nations might be overly optimistic.
While observers have noted the apparent waning of the “no limits” friendship between China and Russia, experts caution against assuming a fundamental shift in their relationship. The reality is that China gains advantages from the conflict in Ukraine, maintains defense collaboration with Russia, and extends aid despite Western opposition. With Russia grappling with Western sanctions, China has capitalized on discounted energy resources from Russia, even as the United States dedicates resources to the ongoing conflict—a position China is unlikely to abandon.
Reports pointing to a growing divide between Xi Jinping and Putin have emerged as the war’s duration continues. Recent talks involving China in Saudi Arabia, addressing the conflict but excluding Russia, added fuel to the speculation. However, such instances of China’s diplomatic engagement have raised and dashed hopes of a shift in its stance on the Ukraine conflict, highlighting China’s unwavering support for Moscow.
Scholars underscore that China’s strategic diplomatic approach perpetuates such perceptions, while Western leaders hope for a divergence from Russia. Past events, including Xi’s conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China, have not resulted in a distancing of China from Russia.
Experts emphasize that the West’s attempts to sway China against Russia are unlikely to succeed, given China’s position as a critical trading partner for Europe. China’s ongoing support for Russia serves as a strategic counterbalance against Western pressure, safeguarding its interests.
This notion is echoed by China’s actions; shortly after participating in the Saudi peace talks, China’s defense minister visited Russia, reinforcing the narrative of a resilient partnership. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin underscored the commitment to the “no limits” friendship, signaling continued cooperation.
In summary, China’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict raises questions about its loyalties, but the evidence points to a sustained alliance with Russia. Amidst Western hopes for a rift, experts emphasize the complex dynamics of the China-Russia relationship, highlighting China’s geopolitical motivations and interests that guide its decisions. Understanding China’s perspective is crucial for a more accurate assessment of its actions in the context of the Ukraine conflict.