Is China quietly distancing itself from Russia

And what could that mean for Ukraine

Before Russia launched its war in Ukraine the two states proclaimed last month that their friendship had “no limits.”

Now, with Russia’s economy being slammed with sanctions from all over the world, there is growing evidence that China’s willingness and ability to aid its northern neighbor may be limited. Beijing has refused to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine but wants to avoid being impacted by the sanctions.

“China is not a party to the [Ukraine] crisis, and doesn’t want the sanctions to affect China,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Tuesday during a phone call with his Spanish counterpart. – CNN reports.

Beijing also gave its full backing Wednesday to comments made earlier this week by China’s ambassador to Ukraine. “China will never attack Ukraine. We will help, especially economically,” Fan Xianrong was quoted as saying in a press release from the Lviv regional government.

“China will never attack Ukraine. We will help, especially economically,” China’s ambassador to Ukraine Fan Xianrong

Before that, on March 5 Hu Wei, one of the leading adviser to the Counselor’s Office of the State Council of Chine, wrote:

“China cannot be tied to Putin and needs to be cut off as soon as possible. In the sense that an escalation of conflict between Russia and the West helps divert U.S. attention from China, China should rejoice with and even support Putin, but only if Russia does not fall. Being in the same boat with Putin will impact China should he lose power”.

On March 16, CCTV (Chinese state-owned broadcaster controlled by the Chinese Communist Party) suddenly stopped being the sounding board for the Russian army, and became the sounding box for the Ukrainian army, and probably found that Russia was about to end. 

Moreover, Russia announced on March, 17 that it would not hold a vote on its resolution calling for a “negotiated ceasefire” to evacuate civilians, after other world leaders condemned the scope and language of the proposal and India and China declined to support this move.

Even more, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was allegedly on a flight headed to Beijing on March, 17, but the plane turned around midway and flew back toward Moscow, according to German newspaper Bild.

All of these signals indeed point to direction of China trying to distancing itself from Russia and its “lost case” in Ukraine. Situation will be at least a bit clearer after phone call between President Biden with Chinese President Xi Jinping on March, 18 to discuss the weeks-long war in Ukraine.

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