“Russia’s war on Ukraine and China’s next move”, Jan Švec (IIR, Czech Republic)

In his chapter, Jan Švec analyses the dual role of Beijing, which on the one hand maintains economic and diplomatic relations with the EU and the USA, and on the other hand also cooperates with the Russian Federation. 

Czechia should closely follow China’s approach towards the war in Ukraine and do its utmost to avoid a dangerous escalation of the tensions between the EU and China. As an EU member, Czechia should ensure the protection of its crucial technology and know-how and limit its cooperation with China in areas where security and human rights are concerned. However, a complete isolation of China would only intensify the pressure on the Chinese leadership to provoke conflict.

On 4 February 2022, China and Russia signed a joint statement defining their relationship as a friendship with “no limits” and “no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation”. Three weeks later, only four days after the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine. The next day, Xi Jinping spoke to Vladimir Putin on the phone. The summary of the call was an early sign of Chinaʼs subsequent ambiguous approach to Russia’s invasion. Xi expressed an understanding of the “reasonable security concerns of all countries”, but he also argued that “China determines its position concerning the Ukrainian issue on its own merits” and supports “resolving the issue through negotiations with Ukraine”. China then abstained from voting at the UN Security Council on the resolutions condemning the aggression of Russia and the annexation of the three Ukrainian regions.

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