Sadly, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has continued for over a month and still shows no signs of de-escalation or ceasefire.
On March 18, Chinese President Xi Jinping had a video call with U.S. President Joe Biden. The situation in Ukraine was an important part of their discussion. Xi emphasized the need for all sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace, and to create space for peace and leave room for political settlement.
The U.S. and NATO should be engaged in dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine, Xi told Biden.
Sanctions, ever successful?
There has been skepticism and criticism in some Western media about China’s response to the crisis, specifically its reluctance to impose sanctions. Xi elaborated China’s rationale during the virtual meeting.
“Sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions would only make the people suffer,” he said. “If sanctions further escalated, they could trigger serious crises in the global economy and trade, finance, energy, food, and industrial and supply chains, crippling the already languishing world economy and causing irrevocable losses.”
Since 2011, the U.S. has imposed over 100 sanctions against Russia, according to U.S. Treasury data. But it’s clear that they have failed to address any conflict involved as Washington expected, the Ukraine crisis included.
Looking from a broader perspective, Russia is not the only target of sweeping sanctions by the U.S. According to information released by the U.S. Treasury, the Donald Trump administration made a total of 3,800 sanctions designations during its four-year run, which means it imposed sanctions roughly three times per day on average, targeting a multitude of countries. Despite their number, these arbitrary moves did not appear to provide the U.S. with any benefit.
Dilma Rousseff, former Brazilian President, recently remarked on the international community’s discontent with Washington’s use of the greenback as a tool to impose sanctions. She said the U.S. exploits the dollar as a weapon of retaliation and a tool of extortion against other countries. Considering this and taking into consideration recent geopolitical events, it is unlikely that the U.S. currency will maintain its supremacy forever.
Medicine vs. mortars
“Some Western media falsely report that China secretly provided support for Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, and have been pressuring China to follow the West in imposing sanctions Russia,” Gao Yang, a researcher with China Center for Contemporary World Studies, told Beijing Review.
Nevertheless, what they don’t report is the complexity of the Ukraine issue and who should take the primary blame for today’s situation, according to Gao.
“What we are doing is encouraging Ukrainians to play tough with Russians, we’re encouraging Ukrainians to think that they will ultimately become part of the West because we’ll ultimately defeat Putin…The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path. And the result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked,” John Mearsheimer, a distinguished American political scientist and international relations scholar, said in 2015.
Mearsheimer made this statement at time when Ukraine was already mired in political unrest and turmoil. He also warned that the Russians would look for ways to retaliate if the U.S. continued to provoke them.
“It is the U.S. leading five waves of NATO expansion eastward, all the way to Russia’s doorstep, and its deployment of advanced offensive strategic weapons in breach of its assurances to Russia,” Gao said.
On March 16, the U.S. announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine, bringing its total commitments to $1 billion in a week. In the meantime, the Red Cross Society of China has provided three batches of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine.
“China has provided medicines, sleeping bags, food and other humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. In contrast, Washington has continued to provide weapons and other military equipment to Kiev. It seems the U.S. is trying to prolong the conflict rather than prompting peace and negotiation between the two sides,” Gao said.
“Conflict between Russia and Ukraine does no good for China,” Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang wrote in an opinion piece titled Where We Stand on Ukraine, published in the Washington Post on March 15.
Last year, China and Ukraine celebrated the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties. China is the biggest trading partner of Ukraine and also a major market for Ukraine’s corn and sunflower oil exports. According to data from the General Administration of Customs of China, the country imported grain worth approximately $3.2 billion from Ukraine in 2021, making the European republic its third main grain import source, after the U.S. and Brazil. Moreover, China is also the largest trading partner of Russia and two countries have extensive exchanges on many fronts.
Will Europe benefit from this crisis? The dependency of European countries on Russia’s energy supply is still high. In 2021, the EU reportedly purchased 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia, accounting for around 45 percent of its total imports and close to 40 percent of its total consumption. Meanwhile, European countries have sheltered over 3 million refugees from Ukraine, with more than 2 million in Poland, and the number may continue to grow.
However, the scenario is quite different for the U.S. The U.S. has received only seven Ukrainian refugees and it has been trying for years to persuade its European allies to import more of its liquefied natural gas. “If Europe’s energy supply cannot be guaranteed during the crisis, the U.S. can take the opportunity to provide energy to Europe,” Shang Yue, an associate researcher with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told Beijing Daily.
The ongoing crisis will also “enhance Europe’s Russophobia, making it more reliant on the U.S. for security guarantee,” Shang added. -The Daily Mail-Beijing Review News Exchange Item