Beijing’s self-interested balancing act. Defense of business and an eye on Taiwan

A Russian attack on Ukraine had been in the air for weeks, if not months. However, many expected a limited Russian attack on the secessionist Donbass, a region that the Russians would wrest from Ukraine as they did in 2014 with Crimea. The pincer attack unleashed by Vladimir Putin against the entire territory of the former Soviet Republic was considered very daring and although the head of the Kremlin is absolute master in Russia (and Belarus), not even he can move on one front (the Western one). ) without insuring on the other (the eastern one). And this is where the other superpower comes into play: Xi Jinping’s China. Accustomed to not hindering each other within the UN and linked by an ever-increasing commercial exchange, also in this case Moscow and Beijing have been careful and not get in the way. At the beginning of the hostilities, the spokespersons of the People’s Republic of China therefore took great care not to define the Russian military operation as “an invasion”. Similarly, Beijing takes a tight stance on the economic and financial sanctions that the West, including Switzerland, are adopting to weaken Moscow’s war effort. “China and Russia will continue normal commercial cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.” Thus the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin reiterated how China opposes the use of sanctions to solve problems “and is even more opposed to unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law”. The fact that they have not been voted on by the UN Security Council makes the anti-virus sanctions inadmissible. And it matters little if China and Russia (like the US, France and Great Britain) have a permanent seat with the right of veto in the same Council, becoming in fact unassailable. For the avoidance of doubt, Beijing also reiterated that sanctions are an instrument “that does not solve problems”.

China’s interest in protecting Russia is not just a matter of courtesy between superpowers who don’t step on their toes. Yesterday, Moscow wrested Crimea from Ukraine in defiance of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum with which it undertook to guarantee the territorial integrity of Ukraine which in exchange ceded all the former Soviet nuclear weapons present on its territory to Russia. Tomorrow Beijing may be tempted to do the same with Taiwan. With the former British colony of Hong Kong under control in recent years, China is experiencing Taiwan’s independence as a thorn in its side. Turning a blind eye to Ukraine today could mean getting a Russian pass for the future reconquest of the riotous island of Formosa. Hence the balancing act of a Beijing that does not condemn Russian action but invites the parties “to moderation”, which abstains at the UN when the Council tries to condemn Russia, and which explains that it understands Moscow’s disturbance over the expansion of NATO. Faithful to the tradition of a capitalist system framed in a communist regime, the Chinese leaders do not intend to lose money due to a war of others. That’s why, Bloomberg reports, banking giants Icbc and Bank of China would be restricting funding for the purchase of raw materials from Russia for fear of Western sanctions. This would be a temporary measure to prevent the US from blocking the two banks’ access to the dollar.

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About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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