Russia-Ukraine: “China will do what’s best for China”

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons | China and Russia have been allies in the international system, meeting a total of 38 times as national leaders, according to the New York Times. This is more than any other two heads of states.

by Mia Lubrani | staff writer

March 17, 2022

Everyone is aware of the ongoing humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the Russian-Ukrainian war. There are multiple strategies to understanding what may happen to either end or escalate the invasion.

On an international front, China will always act in the best interest of China. 

China, or President Xi Jinping, should step in to mediate the conflict and effectively convince Putin to lose all hopes of expanding his political power onto other sovereign states. This could increase their soft power status by showing their diplomatic ability to encourage peace in international crises. 

Although this option is the one everyone hopes for, Russia has begun searching for a lifeline because Putin’s war is proving to be more difficult than originally hypothesized by the Kremlin.

It is a fact that China has a superior drone and missile system that could aid Russia in their invasion, and Russia recently asked China to help militarily and economically. China has declined this request and Beijing has condemned the humanitarian crisis forming from the war.

It is important that China should not offer any sort of help to the Russian invasion. If they do decide to side with Russia, the war will be opened up to an international arena. The European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will impose strict sanctions and even send military backup to Ukraine. The casualties are already horrific, but if China joins in this war, they could be disastrous.

NATO and the EU both have expressed support for Ukraine in their battle for democracy. NATO and the EU are strong international coalitions that protect the sovereignty of their respective nations. Although Ukraine is not part of either group, both groups have aided through refugee intake, military support in Poland and economic sanctions in Russia.

China is a large international player in the ongoing crisis. According to the World Bank, China’s GDP has been growing at an unprecedented rate since the ‘70s. Their country is among the global south, which is the under-industrialized region of the globe. The World Bank finds their gross domestic product has grown to almost $15 trillion, but the United States still has the superior $21 trillion.

China also has ties with Russia. Both countries are centralized authoritarian governments that maintain their states through strict policy enforcement with one ruler. China and Russia have been allies in the international system, meeting a total of 38 times as national leaders, according to the New York Times. This is more than any other two heads of states, so it is safe to say the leaders are close. 

China accuses the U.S. of causing the war in Ukraine, attempting to shift the focus back on reckless western foreign policy. Also, in an attempt to shift fault, Russia and China have paired up to accuse the U.S. of financing biological and chemical weapon labs in Ukraine. 

If China decided to help Russia in their anti-democratic invasion, the world would impose uniform sanctions on China like they have done to Russia. As published in the World Bank trade statistics, China relies heavily on the U.S., Hong Kong, Japan and other western nations. Economic sanctions and trade barriers would hurt their economic growth and status in the system.

Also, China has its own human rights violations, lacks technology infrastructure and economic inequality. China’s biggest concern right now should be to boost its trade with competitive free-market states and to focus on internal characteristics that usually hamper the development of states.

China will always do what is best for China. Xi also has his reelection to keep in mind. I assume he will be peaceful until next fall when his citizens vote for his reelection. Although international specialists believe that helping Russia would hurt his position for reelection, the censored media in China might be able to positively highlight China’s help.

Another option for Xi is to play international peacekeeper. China played a leadership role in the early 2000s to diffuse tensions in the Korean Peninsula in an attempt to denuclearize North Korea according to The Hill.  This helped their position to gain a more positive outlook in the eyes of western liberal democracies. 

It is not likely that China will play peacekeeper because it could fail and hurt his standing in the upcoming elections. Russia’s only logical option is to stop the madness. We can all hope that the EU, NATO and China act as a united front in presenting this option, but countries’ foreign policy decisions are extremely complex to predict. If Russia increases its position in any way or creates an alliance with China, the world will be pushed further into an international war.