BUSAN: After it brokered a deal to re-establish ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran just last week, could China score a diplomatic coup in Russia next?
Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon be visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a state visit from Monday (Mar 20) to Mar 22, his first trip to Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Xi had raised his concerns about the war to Putin when they met in September 2022 in Uzbekistan, at a time when Kremlin voices talked up the Russian use of nuclear weapons. On the first anniversary of the invasion, China released a 12-point peace plan, warning against using nuclear weapons and calling for urgent talks.
Though Xi would likely rather see Putin win the conflict, the threat of nuclear escalation is so terrifying that Beijing has repeatedly signalled to Moscow to avoid nuclear threats.
COULD CHINA PLAY PEACE BROKER?
Could Xi succeed in bringing Russia and Ukraine back to the negotiation table? He might try, but neither Ukraine nor the West will accept mediation by a party that has affirmed support for Russia all this while.
China and Russia’s “no limits” partnership declared just weeks before the invasion, is thought to have given Putin the confidence to launch his war. In the Gulf, China is a disinterested party who just wants access to hydrocarbons and has no interest in sectarian conflicts.