China, India walk tightrope over Russia’s war in Ukraine
By Jesús Centeno and David Asta Alares
Beijing/New Delhi, Sep 30 (EFE).- India’s initial response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was one of caution and Beijing refrained from condemning it, but six months on, New Delhi has called more sharply for an end to hostilities while Beijing has acknowledged its “concerns” over the ongoing war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his concerns to Russia’s Vladimir Putin at a meeting in late September in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.
At that same summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Putin: “I know that today’s era is not of war and we have spoken to you many times on the phone that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue are such things that touch the world.”
Beijing says its “concern” is not new.
“We have always been clear. We must make every effort for peace, respect the territorial integrity of all countries and pay attention to the legitimate concerns of all countries (in a nod to Russia’s motives),” Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said recently when asked about the Kremlin’s latest mobilization of Russian forces.
China has not explicitly supported Russia but it has opposed sanctions against Moscow claiming they do not solve problems.
At the recent United Nations General Assembly Beijing also failed to criticize the recent Moscow mobilization or call for referendums to annex Ukrainian territories to Russia.
“First of all, China’s concerns regarding the war have been consistent ever since February…The fact that Putin mentioned it should be read as an indication that from the beginning China expressed this concern,” Chinese academic Victor Gao told EFE.
According to Gao, Beijing was the biggest investor in Ukraine before the invasion while also being Russia’s largest trade partner for decades.
“Expecting China to destroy its relationship with Russia because of Ukraine is completely absurd,” he said.
From the expert’s point of view, the root of the crisis is that the United States does not want Europe and Russia to collaborate and is pushing the world into a “bloc policy,” something China opposes because it does not want another Cold War.
The expert accused Europe of being more concerned with Washington’s line and urged the bloc to negotiate a way out rather than aggravate the situation further.
He also criticized the Joe Biden administration for saying that China was its biggest rival instead of Russia even though, according to the expert, Beijing has not invaded any country.
“The more defeated Russia feels, the more resolutely it will fight back. It might use the nuclear bomb and the whole world will suffer,” Gao warned.
Meanwhile, India’s outlook is fairly similar, especially given that its military sector is heavily dependent on Russian imports and it has increased oil purchases from Moscow.
That is why, despite his call for a cessation of hostilities, Modi immediately stressed that the friendly ties between the two countries have “deepened manifold” in recent decades.
India has also reacted warily to the annexation referendums.
“India’s position has also been clear and consistent insofar as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries is concerned,” Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a recent press conference.