On Friday morning, an interesting development took place. US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a telephonic conversation. The obvious issue of the Ukraine crisis came up for discussion. Biden wanted Xi to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly, whereas Xi appeared to blame the present Ukraine issue on NATO’s eastward expansion.
And what did Biden do? Well, he made a weak statement that there will be “consequences” if China offered any help to Russia. What are these “consequences”? Only Biden appears to be aware of this. But the experience revealed one thing: the West lacks the will to sanction China, and Putin is taking advantage of this compulsion. Moscow is thus able to use Xi Jinping against the US.
Putin is enlisting Chinese assistance
Russia could actually be getting Chinese military and economic help. At least, this is what the EU and the US fear.
As per POLITICO, a senior EU official said that EU leaders have “very reliable evidence” that China is considering giving military assistance to Russia.
Earlier, American officials too had suggested that Russia had sought military equipment and other support from China. Later, a Financial Times report had stated that Beijing showed openness to the request.
However, here’s the thing: Russia no longer requires Chinese military hardware. Putin’s soldiers already have some of the world’s top military hardware. The Russian President, on the other hand, has managed to put the Western world’s reaction to China to the test. He understands that China is immune to sanctions and that the US and EU will not censure it even if Xi Jinping publicly aids Russia.
Putin makes use of Xi Jinping
Putin has already begun to use Xi Jinping to circumvent Western sanctions. China’s banking and insurance regulator recently stated that the government opposes Russian sanctions and will not join them.
Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said, “Everyone is watching recent military conflict, or war, between Russia and Ukraine.” Guo added, “Regarding financial sanctions, we do not support that.”
Despite Western sanctions placing severe limitations on marine and aviation freight, barley and other consumer items have continued to travel between Russia and China through the China-Europe railway links.
Only earlier this month, fifty carriages of barley purchased by China’s state-owned Shandong Expressway Minsheng Group were transported from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk in Russia to Jinan, the capital city of China’s Shandong province.
Dragon has eliminated all limitations on Russian wheat, regardless of Western sanctions. Beijing had previously placed limitations on Russian wheat, citing phytosanitary concerns. Despite this, the country recently stated that it is now fully open to Russian wheat imports.
All such measures assist Russia in avoiding the repercussions of Western sanctions on its economy. Although the West is isolating Russia’s economy, Putin is poised to make more money from China. Meanwhile, the Western world appears to be in the dark.
China remains sanction-free
Even as reports of China helping Russia during the Ukraine crisis grab attention in Western media, the US and the EU remain clueless. EU leaders, for instance, insisted on going ahead with the EU-China summit, scheduled for April 1 with Xi Jinping despite reports of China considering giving military assistance to Moscow.
Similarly, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman went as far as telling CNN that China should “understand that their future is with the United States, with Europe, with other developed and developing countries around the world. Their future is not to stand with Vladimir Putin.”
Instead of imposing sanctions, the West is attempting to soothe and win over China’s leadership. They just lack the political will to sanction China, and Putin is taking advantage of their ignorance on the Beijing front to evade sanctions against Russia.