Following economic and fiscal sanctions from the international community in response to the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin’s closest ally, China, has stayed on its side fervently despite political pressure to condemn Russian aggression, a support strengthened by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi recent statement.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Moscow “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships [for China] in the world” in an annual parliament meeting last March 7. It can be remembered that the two countries, through their respective presidents, have met during the Beijing Winter Olympics and exchanged statements of support for their foreign policy agendas, namely Russia’s claim on Ukraine and China’s claim on Taiwan.

“No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era,” said Wang at the annual meeting. “The friendship between the two peoples is ironclad,” he stated.

This statement is one of many that expresses support for their Russian comrades before and during their advance in Ukraine. Most notably, during the emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last February 28, China was one of the more notable nations that chose to abstain from voting against the resolution deploring the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The resolution was later passed with overwhelming support from the UNGA, with a historic vote of 141 nations voting in favor. Those that abstained alongside China were India, Iraq, and South Africa, while North Korea, Eritrea, Belarus, and Syria voted against the measure.

China has also refused to adopt economic sanctions on Russia like those of the United States and Europe. Beijing reiterated the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations but has voiced out against the imposition of sanctions, claiming it will create new issues and break down any progress of a peaceful settlement.

Chinese-Russian Partnership

As was stated before, a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin attracted global attention last February 4. The meeting during the Beijing Winter Olympic games saw the two leaders declare that their partnership had “no limits,” signifying a renewed connection between the two world powers, which may have long-term implications in the international world order.

The countries affirmed “their strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests,” said the joint statement“Friendship between the two States has no limits; there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation,” said the two leaders.

The agreement marked the most intensive and forward declaration of Russian-Chinese cooperation to work towards creating a new international sphere built upon their news on freedoms and democracy.

Russia supported China’s claim on Taiwan as an “inalienable part of China, and opposes any form of independence of Taiwan.” At the same time, China supported Russia’s demand to block Ukraine from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Both countries voiced their reservations over the enlargement of NATO and the AUKUS alliance between Australia, Britain, and the US. The two powers expressed concerns regarding “the advancement of US plans to develop global missile defense and deploy its elements in various regions of the world, combined with capacity building of high-precision non-nuclear weapons for disarming strikes and other strategic objectives.”

President Putin also took the opportunity to unveil a $117.5 billion oil and gas deal with China. He promised to increase Russia’s exports to the Far East and lessen its reliance on the West.

Wang Yi: Situation in Ukraine is “complex”

Russian President Vladimir Putin received Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi in 2015 (Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vladimir_Putin_and_Wang_Yi_(2015-04-07)_01.jpg
Russian President Vladimir Putin received Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi in 2015 (kremlin.ruCC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

Rather than calling out the Russian offensive on Ukraine, China turned to Western countries to recognize the attackers’ legitimate security concerns.” In a statement made by China last March 7, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that the roots of the “Ukrainian situation” were “complex.” He further said that these occurrences did not occur overnight, as he cites a Chinese expression that says” three feet of ice does not form in a single day.”

“Solving complex problems requires calmness and rationality, rather than adding fuel to the fire and intensifying contradictions,” said Wang. He adds that China has already done “some work” to promote a peaceful settlement and has been in touch with both sides of the conflict. “China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in pushing for peace and promoting talks, and is willing to work with the international community to carry out necessary mediation when needed,” he said.

Beijing said it was willing to make its own contributions to the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. Wang said that China’s Red Cross will send a batch of humanitarian relief to Ukraine “as soon as possible.”

China noted that humanitarian action must follow the principles of impartiality and neutrality, saying that these issues should be rid of politics. To balance the statement, Wang added that the friendship between his country and Russia is “rock solid,” and future cooperation looks widely optimistic.

“No matter how sinister the international situation is, both China and Russia will maintain their strategic determination and continuously push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era.”

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