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OPINION                                                                  JUNE 09, 2023  |    The Indian Eye 12

        allies, drawing them away from the
        Indo-Pacific.  More  importantly,  a
        prolonged  conflict  would  probably
        weaken both Europe and Russia, re-
        laxing China’s strategic environment
        in both Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific
            In  terms  of  policy  responses,
        therefore,  China  did  not  stand  by
        either  Russia  or  the  West.  China
        sought  to  distance  itself  from  Rus-
        sia’s  actions  by  calling  for  dialogue
        and respect of territorial integri-
        ty.  Beijing  remained  very  cautious
        about not appearing to provide
        concrete material support to Russia
        in  its  war  efforts  against  Ukraine.
        Beijing also assured Ukraine that
        China will never attack Ukraine or
        challenge  its  territorial  integrity.
        Alternatively,  China  intensified  its
        criticism of NATO and popularized
        anti-US  and  NATO  propaganda.
        The Chinese leadership also ignored
        Western pressure to press Russia to
        stop the Ukraine war and continued
        strengthening its strategic and eco-  Xi Jinping spoke to the Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky informing him that China’s “core stance is to facilitate talks for peace” (File photo)
        nomic partnership with Russia.
            A year into the war, China’s per-  nuclear  weapons  when  Xi  Jinping   for revival of stalled discussion on   intention of both parties to come to
        ception of the Ukraine crisis has not   informed  German Chancellor  Olaf   Comprehensive Agreement on In-  the  negotiating  table.  Moscow  has
        changed, though its concerns are vis-  Scholtz that nuclear weapons cannot   vestment (CAI) trade pact. The EU   vowed to press on with its offensive.
        ible. The state-media Global Times,   be used in the war. This same senti-  Chief also acknowledged that de-  Concurrently,  while  Kiev  has  wel-
        considered   CCP’s   mouthpiece,   ment was reiterated in the 12 Points   coupling from China was not possi-  comed China’s role as a mediator, it
        opined  that  the  war  has  entered  a   Peace Proposal released during the   ble, even as she stressed ‘de-risking’   intends to strive for more territorial
        phase of stalemate. Since both Rus-  first-year anniversary of Ukraine war   trade ties.              gains. Distrust of Chinese intentions
        sia and Ukraine are determined to   in 2023.                            Meanwhile,  the  divisions  with-  primarily in EU and the US could
        maximize territorial gains before be-  In this context, it is noteworthy   in EU and between EU and the   also become a major determining
        ing forced to negotiate, the conflict   that  although  Beijing  at  this  point   US  over  China  are  also  apparent.   factor.  The  European  Commission
        is likely to prolong.             is unsure whether Russia will follow   Reportedly,  Brussels  is  struggling   and the US have dismissed China’s
            The real  danger  of  the war of   through with its threat of using tacti-  to forge a consensus approach on   peace proposal as a “political initia-
        attrition that China perceives is   cal nuclear weapons, it is determined   China as some countries are inclined   tive” aimed to distract international
        that  Russia’s  heightened  anxiety   not to allow Russia frame China as   to engage with Beijing over trade   attention away from China’s support
        could lead to use of tactical nuclear   complicit in the decision. Therefore,   and Ukraine crisis. Concurrently, as   of Russia.
        weapons. Highlighting this concern,   Xi  Jinping  travelled  to  Moscow  in   Washington is increasing pressure   At present, the US and the Eu-
        China’s  permanent  representative   March  2023  to  issue  a  joint  pledge   on its allies to align closely with the   ropean countries are closely follow-
        to  the  UN  Zhang  Jun  emphasized   against deployment of nuclear weap-  US against China, France along with   ing whether China will provide mili-
        that “nuclear weapons cannot be   ons outside the national territories.  some of EU top officials have openly   tary aid to Russia.
        used and a nuclear war cannot be      The  second  factor  influencing   called for Europe not to follow US   China in the past has kept away
        fought”.10  Considering  that  Russia   Beijing’s  decision  could  be  to  ease   policy on China.   from the Ukraine crisis citing its
        followed through with the threat to   the geopolitical pressure China has   Finally, Beijing also sees this as   complex  historical  context.  As  the
        send its army into Ukraine, Moscow   been  facing  from  the  US  and  EU.   an opportunity to revamp its image   situation in Ukraine is constantly
        similarly could use nuclear weapons   This  can  work  in  different  ways.   as a stable force in the internation-  evolving, it remains to be seen what
        as Putin has threatened to use all   First, China can try to negotiate with   al realm. China’s feat in brokering a   role China will play in the resolution
        weapons systems available if Russia’s   the EU and US to recalibrate their   diplomatic thaw between Saudi Ara-  of the conflict.
        “territorial  integrity”  is  threatened.   policies towards China, in exchange   bia and Iran promoted China’s im-
        According to Western analysts, such   for Beijing pushing Russia to the ne-  age as a global diplomatic and eco-  Mayuri Banerjee is Research Analyst
        a possibility could pose a significant   gotiating table.           nomic leader. Accordingly, if China   at Manohar Parrikar Institute for De-
        moral dilemma to China, jeopardiz-    Second,  it  can  hope  to  weaken   is able to facilitate talks between   fense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi
        ing  China’s  balancing  act  between   their opposition by deepening the   Russia and Ukraine, it will not only   Views expressed are of the author and
        Russia, Ukraine, US and EU.       divisions within EU and between   help Beijing strengthen its diplomat-  do not necessarily reflect the views of
            China’s attempts to engage as a   US and EU about China by project-  ic clout in Eastern Europe, but could
        mediator for finding a political solu-  ing itself as a valuable partner in the   also send a message to the countries   the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or of the
                                                                                                                     Government of India.
        tion to the conflict is possibly driven   Ukraine crisis.           in the Indo-Pacific about China be-
        by three factors. First is to prevent   There have been few indications   ing a responsible power and about   This article first appeared in the Com-
        further escalation of the Ukraine   in this regard. For instance, days be-  its peaceful intent.        ments section of the website (www.
        conflict  into  a  nuclear  war.  To  that   fore French President Macron and   China’s  ability  to  mediate  in of Manohar Parrikar Institute
        end, in November 2022, Beijing sig-  EU  Chief  Ursula  von  der  Leyen’s   the Ukraine crisis is contingent on   for Defense Studies and Analyses, New
        naled its opposition towards use of   visit,  China’s  Envoy  to  EU  called   a  number  of  factors,  including  on   Delhi on May 26, 2023

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