Ukraine war – latest: Putin and Xi to make statements today – as … – Sky News

China’s message to the world: We’re the superpower – not the US – that can get things done

By Helen-Ann Smith, Asia correspondent

For the first year of the Ukraine crisis, China very self-consciously hung in the background.

Not only did it avoid either condemning or condoning the war, but it also refrained from inserting itself into broader global discussions around the crisis.

That is all changing now. Beijing, it seems, has decided to take a different tact, and its new approach positions Xi Jinping right at the centre of proceedings as a self-styled great statesman and peacemaker.

China insists it is one of the only countries that has the power and indeed the credibility to broker any such peace.

Unlike America and many European powers, it says, it has not supplied weapons to either side, it has not passed judgement and has the necessary relationships to bring the two sides to the table.

Its earlier non-committal is now coming in handy in allowing it to make such claims.

In this new role, it can point to recent successes.

It was, in fact, just over a week ago that China brokered a surprise relations-restoring deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, an achievement that came out of the blue and for which China has been applauded.

China’s message to the world it is that it is the new reliable superpower on the block.

Unlike America, which has spent years trying to broker deals and reset the world order based largely on its gravitas and military might, China is now using its economic and trading prowess to exert similar influence.

But its claims to be a peacemaker when it comes to Ukraine ring somewhat hollow in the West.

Not only has China spent the last year quietly supplying Russia with finance, technology and crucial diplomatic cover, but many say that even the act of visiting Moscow is enabling and legitimising Putin’s illegal war.

Indeed, many say it is increasingly difficult to take China’s claims to neutrality seriously during three days of overt friendship and warmth with the Russian leader when President Xi hasn’t once spoken to President Zelenskyy since the invasion.

Despite what it says, China has lots of reasons to not want to see Russia disadvantaged.

The two are vital trading partners to each other, peace on their shared border allows it to focus resources elsewhere and, crucially, Russia is a like-minded ally in an increasingly tense power struggle with America.

China also knows that the Ukraine conflict has the potential to reset the world order and it doesn’t want to lose out.

A weak, defeated Russia and a united, victorious West does not serve its interests, particularly if it ever wanted to launch its own invasion of the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Of course, if Putin and Xi do announce some form of breakthrough or ceasefire proposal, it’s unlikely to be acceptable to Ukraine and its Western backers. A ceasefire now may simply allow Putin to consolidate the territory he has already taken.

But in these circumstances, China will be able to claim that it tried and was frustrated by a warmongering West.

It will suit its new narrative: that China is now the world’s best bet when it comes to diplomacy. 


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.