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Blinken reported the American position on Ukraine. Wang Yi pointed out that solving the Ukraine problem lies in the New Minsk Agreement [Minsk II] . Minsk II gained the approval of the UNSC, and all sides have recognized it as a foundational political document, and ought to effectuate it concretely. China will support any efforts that conform with Minsk II's direction and spirit. At the same time, we call on all sides to remain calm, and refrain from stoking tensions or sensationalizing crises. Wang Yi emphasized that the security of one country cannot be at the cost of another country's security. Regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or expanding military groupings. In today's 21st Century, all sides should abandon Cold War thinking, reach a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security mechanism through dialogue, and Russia's legitimate security concerns should be respected and resolved.

I am wondering if China would take punitive action against Russia if Russia invades Ukraine as long as the U.S. abide my the Minsk II agreement. Is that what Wang Yi is saying or is the U.S. against the Minsk II agreement somehow? I am trying to understand his vague political language and I am wondering if China is currently siding with the U.S. on the Ukraine matter.

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    Please include a link to the source you're quoting from.
    – JJJ
    Jan 27 at 23:54
  • According to this reddit post the source is (a translation of?) a press release by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs following a telephone conversation between State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. I can not find an English version by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    – marianoju
    Jan 28 at 16:58
  • See Google Translate for comparison.
    – marianoju
    Jan 28 at 17:03
  • "China is currently siding with the U.S. on the Ukraine matter." Probably not. To me it sounds like the simply want to stay out of it.
    – Trilarion
    Feb 3 at 20:27

4 Answers 4

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The quote is phased in a politely ambiguous diplomatic language.

Superficially, China is staying above the fray. But the Chinese position is identical to the official Russian diplomatic position, in that the Minsk II agreement is the framework for the situation.

The Russian position is further predicated on the claim that Ukraine did not make a good faith effort to fulfill its obligations under the agreement. China does not specifically repeat this in the quote above.

References to Russia and US are left out entirely, which is not unusual for diplomacy surrounding proxy conflicts.

The line about fulfilling the direction and spirit of Minsk II can be interpreted to refer to:

  • maintaining the ceasefire, i.e. not attempting to re-fight the battles of 2014-2015
  • additional obligations that go beyond the ceasefire, including granting amnesty to the belligerents from 2014-2015, withdrawal of all foreign forces, restoring Ukraine's control of its old borders in the two breakaway republics, and granting some sort of devolved governmental powers as autonomous regions to the two breakaway republics

As of 2021-ish, essentially none of the terms were complied with. Including:

  • The ceasefire itself, in light of recurring light artillery attacks. Confidence was also undermined by Ukraine's government directly expressing a desire to re-conquer the breakaway republics, and building up military capability which could potentially be used for this purpose
  • Actions taken by Ukraine to punish the breakaway republics, contrary to the amnesty requirement, and preventing integration with the rest of the country
  • No progress was made granting autonomous powers. Effectively the opposite took place, as the major political parties in Ukraine representing the Russian population were banned
  • At the same time, Ukraine does not really control of its original borders in the breakaway republics. One issue that irked Ukraine's side, is that Russia granted passports to Russians living in the breakaway republics. Ukraine then claimed it would revoke citizenship of those who accepted Russian passports (while dual citizenship with other countries is to be allowed).
  • Finally, foreign forces do not hide their presence

So to answer the question more directly, if the fighting of 2014-2015 were to repeat in the same sequence -- i.e. with Ukraine attempting to assert control over the breakaway republic's territory, then it is most likely that China would interpret it as a gross violation, by Ukraine, of Minsk II and the accompanying UNSC resolution. I'd expect China to diplomatically support efforts to restore the status quo as of the agreements.

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    The list of terms not complied with is misleading. 1. Ceasefire is not respected by republic's forces, not Ukrainian. 2. Ukraine is not expressing any desire to re-conquer in a military fashion. In a recent briefing by Danilov, secretary of security council, he explicitly discarded such possibility (news.liga.net/ua/politics/news/…). 3. "Foreign forces" means essentially "Russian".
    – siphiuel
    Jan 28 at 16:34
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    1. I agree it's dubious! 2. Legislation is not about military plans, but "political and diplomatic steps". 3. "Training mission by US special forces" is not "foreign armed formations" as stipulated by item 10 in Minsk agreement.
    – siphiuel
    Jan 28 at 17:06
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    Your response is largely misleading (to say the least). It also attempts to make it seem like the Minsk agreements not working out is a fault of solely one side of the conflict, while ignoring the actions of the "breakaway republics (™)". Not sure why it was picked as an answer. I would also like to see some evidence to your claims, especially "political parties representing the RU population being banned" and "dual citizenship to be allowed".
    – bertonne
    Jan 29 at 4:01
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    2. From your own link: "We will continue to pave the way for reintegration of the occupied Ukrainian lands through political and diplomatic steps," Poroshenko wrote on Twitter. The narrative claiming the war aspect of the document is spread by Russian officials, as the document rightfully proclaims Russia a part of the conflict due to Russia supplying the "belligerents" and directly participating in the affairs of "breakaway republics".
    – bertonne
    Jan 29 at 4:10
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    Regarding the second link of yours: "As noted, the strategy defines a set of diplomatic, military, economic, informational, humanitarian measures aimed at restoring the territorial integrity, state sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders through the de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea.". Where exactly is the "desire to re-conquer the breakway republics is expressed", given that Crimea is not a part of the Minsk agreements?
    – bertonne
    Jan 29 at 4:14
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This is a very good question. There are multiple key factors that influence China's actions in Eastern Europe in general but due to the narrow scope of this question let's focus on solely China's position in Ukraine-Russia talks.

China has a major interest in conducting business in Ukraine as indicated by China being the largest import trade partner, with 2021 setting a new record of $15,76 billion and Ukraine being the largest sunflower oil and corn seller to China. Not only that, but China is encouraging the adoption of the infamous "One Belt One Road" initiative as indicated by China-Ukraine infrastructure partnership. (Source: an interview with the Chinese ambassador in Ukraine).

Politics wise, the current Ukrainian government as well as some of Ukraine's political elites seem to be favourable towards China, as indicated by the presence of high-ranking officials on China-related official events, Ukraine withdrawing their support of Canada's UN Human Rights statement regarding the treatment of Uyghurs in China and many other political "favours" done by both sides. This, topped with a borderline insane statement of David Arakhamiya (who is the leader of current largest political party in Ukraine "Sluga Narodu" which hold the majority in Ukraine's Parliament and is also the party of Ukraine's current President Volodymyr Zelensky) that the CCP and "Sluga Narodu" principles align (despite "Sluga Narodu" previously claiming to be libertarian Source) presents a clear pattern of being quite warm towards China (More elaborate recount of current Ukrainian governments China favoritism).

This behaviour is very odd and raises a lot of eyebrows, considering that China has a history of voting against Ukraine on matters that are important to Ukraine. This image shows how China voted against Ukraine on Crimea related resolutions The image above indicates Chinas UN voting pattern regarding Crimea, which is another issue that involves both Ukraine and Russia. (China is under the number 78 on that list).

Now let's take a look at China-Russia relationships. The trade turnover between both countries in 2021 was $146.88 bln. Just like current Ukrainian government, politics wise, Russia seems to be favorable towards China, so much that they "leased" some parts of Russia to the Chinese (Source). Not only that, but China seems to be interested in having Russia as a gas supplier via the "Sila Sibiri" gas line (Source).

So where does this bring us? China has economical interests in both countries, which is clearly illustrated by the everincreasing trade volume. China also has political interests in both countries so what China does in this situation is attempting to stay "neutral": not breaking their relationship with Russia but also ensuring that their political and economical developments in Ukraine remain. As if to whether they are siding with anyone...well, it's no secret that China is the largest trading partner for the U.S. so make of that what you will. Rhetorics and claims wise on this issue, China is most likely going won't change the hostile stance towards the US that they have developed over the years (among with the constantly rising trade turnover with the US...), but will mostly likely try to find a middleground between Ukraine and Russia (their relatively new economical/political development and the existing one).

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The answer to the title question is 'yes'.

China warns US over Russia’s ‘legitimate security concerns’

China has thrown its political weight behind Russia as fears of it potentially invading Ukraine grows, pointing to Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns” in a call to US officials.

Speaking to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Russia’s security concerns over growing tensions in Europe over Ukraine should be “taken seriously”.

“All parties should completely abandon the Cold War mentality and form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiation,” China’s top diplomat said on Thursday, according to a foreign ministry statement.

In a nod to Moscow’s concerns about the expansion of the NATO alliance in Europe, Wang added that “regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs”.

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China is on Russia's side. There are mainly two reasons. First, China is happy to take any opportunity to get back at the US for the tariffs on imports from China, on our words and actions regarding China's treatment of Uighur's Muslims, our not wanting to recognize China's sovereignty on the South China Sea, and much more. Second, China has itself a problem with what it considers a renegade province (Taiwan), and may consider using military action someday where they might need Russia's support.

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