Abstention by China during the voting session in the UNSC on recent referendums held in Ukraine has once again exposed Beijing’s duplicitous stand on Kyiv. China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun, in an indirect support of Russia’s stance, argued that while the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be “safeguarded”, countries’ “legitimate security concerns” should also be taken “seriously”.
Meanwhile, Chinese MoFA Spokesman, Wang Wenbin reiterated that the UN Security Council needs to make full use of the mediation tools provided for in the UN Charter and steer the situation in the right direction of ending the fighting and promoting dialogue. Responding to a question on China’s position on the recently held urgent UN Security Council meeting on the referendums held in Eastern and Southern Ukraine on joining Russia, he said that the UNSC needs to take constructive and responsible actions in particular to open up space for a political resolution.
In an apparent endorsement of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, Li Zhanshu, Chairman of China’s National People’s Congress, expressed support for Russia’s efforts to protect its interests in Ukraine duringa meeting with the Deputies from Russia’s State Duma in September 2022. Li also thanked Moscow for its support on the Taiwan issue. Later, during a meeting with the Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, hestated that ‘crux of the Ukraine crisis is Russia’s befitting response to American provocation’.
China-Ukraine relations seems to have taken a beating recently. On September 05, a state-backed trade expo ‘China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS)’ cancelled a forum being organized by the Ukrainian Embassy in Beijing, in which Ukrainian diplomats were set to promote ‘vast investment opportunities in Ukraine’. The forum was to be held at China National Convention Centre in Beijing. The speech by Ukrainian diplomats was expected to be given at the expo aimed at advancing cooperation between Ukraine and China. However, due to cancellation of the event, the Ukrainian Embassy in Beijing had to post the speech and presentation on the expo on Chinese media platform Weibo.
In another case, Chinese Embassy in Kyiv tried to stall the creation of ‘Taiwan Friendship Group’, by using diplomatic channels and creating influence in Ukrainian political circles. However, Ukrainian parliamentarians rejected any intervention from representatives of other countries including China, on the issue. On August 18, Ukrainian parliamentarian Merezhko had announced the formation of ‘Taiwan Friendship Group’, comprising 15 Ukrainian parliamentarians including members of the ruling party. Beijing had earlier lodged a protest against this group at the Ukrainian Embassy in China.
Criticizing arms supply to Ukraine by other countries, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Geng Shuang, speaking at a UNSC Meeting on Ukraine noted that supplying weapons would not bring peace, but only complicate the problem and worsen the humanitarian crisis. He expressed concerns over possibilities of weapons and ammunition falling into the wrong hands, creating security risks in Ukraine and the region. He reiterated China’s stand that dialogue and negotiation is the most realistic and feasible way to resolve crisis.
On the economy front, Ukraine is suffering losses due to unscrupulous Chinese businessmen. Inputs indicate that bogus orders are being placed by Chinese businessmen for grain cargo shipped from Ukraine to ports in Mediterranean Sea. Given the fake nature of orders & bill of landing receipts, such ships are unable to unload their cargo at Mediterranean Sea ports. Taking advantage of the situation, Chinese businessmen are purchasing such cargo at low prices and subsequently selling it to Egyptian and Jordanian businessmen at premium, thereby causing loss of revenue to the Ukrainian government.
Ukrainian President Zelensky recently acknowledged that there were fewer leader-to-leader communications between Ukraine and China as compared to before. However, contradicting the claim, Chinese MoFA Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that China and Ukraine were strategic partners and cooperation was smooth including under the Belt and Road Initiative. Ukraine must be careful of the Dragon that is known for sugar-coated talks on camera and spitting fire from behind.