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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Xi Jinping’s Visit to Moscow: Implications for China’s Role in Ukraine

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a notable adjustment to Beijing’s stance on Ukraine prior to his upcoming three-day trip to Moscow. He expressed support for Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns” while avoiding any mention of “respecting the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity” of all countries.

President Xi’s article was published in the Russian newspaper Pravda on Monday, while Russian President Vladimir Putin’s article was simultaneously published in China’s People’s Daily. Both leaders referenced the Ukraine conflict in their pieces and criticized the United States either directly or indirectly for its role in the war.

While President Putin targeted the US-led NATO for the conflict and expansion in eastern Europe, President Xi’s position on the Ukraine crisis is intriguing as it differs from China’s formal stance on a political settlement, released by the Foreign Ministry on February 24, 2023. The official Chinese position emphasizes respect for the sovereignty of all countries.

The formal Chinese position released by the Foreign Ministry talks about respecting the sovereignty of all countries upfront. It stated:

“Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld…..Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected.”

President Xi’s published article outlines several proposals in the context of the Ukraine war, which include upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and respecting the legitimate security concerns of all countries.

However, the article does not address the importance of respecting the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of all countries, which goes against the Russian invasion of Ukraine that occurred on February 24.

It is apparent from both leaders’ articles that they share a common view on the Ukraine war and oppose the US-led western powers. President Xi notes that the world is facing numerous complex and interrelated security challenges, as well as damaging acts of hegemony, domination, and bullying, and a prolonged global economic recovery. He emphasizes the importance of a multi-polar world where no single country dictates the international order, clarifying that the China-Russia alliance does not target any third country. Although President Xi does not name the US specifically in the English translation of his published piece.

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