China’s Neutral Stance. Silent Dominance?

China in Russia-Ukraine war, China, Russia, Ukraine, Russia and Ukraine War, Ukraine War, Politics, Geopolitics

Unveiling China’s Position in the Russia-Ukraine War: Delve into the complex dynamics of China’s neutral stance and its impact on global power dynamics.

  • Explore the historical alliance between China and Russia, the strategic advantages China gains, and how it strengthens its grip in the Asia-Pacific region. Discover the geopolitical implications and the risks for China’s future foreign policies.

The world’s second-largest economy is beginning to reveal its card to assert influence.  Or is it just the puppet master acting behind closed doors all along?

Since the Russia-Ukraine war’s burgeoning and taking over all media outlets, worldwide, the world took a turn. To say the least.

Since Russia’s first invasion of Ukrainian territory, China’s official stance on the war has been nothing but a neutral one. Beijing has kept its distance, with no interference, unlike the US and the European Union (EU).

While China expressed its concerns about the importance of safeguarding Ukraine’s sovereignty, the world has yet to witness any form of interference from China. But for the world’s second-largest economy, various aspects are on the line, with the primary one being China’s historic and strategic alliance with Russia, which is deemed particularly of immense value for both Beijing and the Kremlin when it comes to countering Western influence.

From Neutrality to Dominance

It’s safe to say that the political, and regional, repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war were, and remain, grave, especially when we look at the power shift between the US, China, Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and Iran. The leading powers of the world. This triggered a shift in balance creating an assertive, and consequential, might we dare to add, change in foreign policies between these countries.

Let’s take the strategic partnership between Beijing and Moscow, for starters. A historical alliance, fortified with time by the extension of political and trade ties between both superpowers. The political ties between Beijing and Moscow date back to the mid-twentieth century, during the cold war. And despite the brief periods of tension and lack of cooperation, both countries have ever had a robust understanding of each other’s shared ideological ties. At the moment, some of these relations mainly exist for the sole purpose of fortifying their cooperation in areas such as trade, military, and international diplomacy, the pillars of any power state. Relations that cannot be jeopardized by any external factor, and this might as well, could include the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

If we are to dive into the criticality of the Chinese interference in the invasion, or more likely, lack of it, then it would become more and more evident why the emerging economic power took a Swiss move by sticking to its neutrality stance on the situation.

Chinese interference in the war, be it showing support to either party, could heavily impact the outcome of the war, especially if we reminisce on the diplomatic relation China has with Russia, which could result in a global change in power. 

An active interference could very well mean geopolitical tensions with major powers, economic implications involving global trade, supply chains, diplomatic fallout, energy markets, and of course, the mother of all loads, technological innovations. Therefore, it is in China’s best interest to remain neutral and work on a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Absence of interference, though, does not necessarily mean that a strongly founded strategic alliance between China and Russia does not have any implications for the conflict. The fact is, China is its own state, and Russia understands that, whether they have strong ties or not, and for that reason, Moscow understands that Beijing is incalculably benefiting from this so-called ‘neutrality’ stance. 

The conflict allowed China to exploit the situation for its benefit. Beijing saw an opportunity and took it. To say the least. The conflict gave China the perfect opportunity to spread and extend its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region. At a time when the US and EU were shifting their attention toward the war, China was ramping up its military activities in the South China Sea, building stronger ties with Russia by providing economic and military support in different ways, and delivering on its promise of diplomatic support in the UN. 

Strengthening Its Grip 

The geopolitical landscape in the world is shifting as tensions maintain their escalating movement. The Russia-Ukraine war brought instability and uncertainty for many countries, but China has managed to exploit the situation to its own benefit. Exploring the Chinese tactics throughout the historical period means assessing how Beijing managed to shift the tides for its own sake, and guaranteed sustainability on the geopolitical table.

The ongoing disruption of trade routes between Europe and Asia, driven by the escalation, has allowed Beijing to take the lead by filling in the Russian void and providing alternative trade routes through its latest initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This maneuver enabled China to take a much bigger role in strengthening its economic relations with some of the leading countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, giving it an additional layer of leverage in future geopolitical negotiations. 

Needless to say, the void felt by the Russian absence, extended to the technology sector, has allowed a widespread expansion of Chinese innovations. If we look at the recent ban on imports of various types of semiconductors, we can evidently see that Russia gave Chinese tech companies the opportunity of a lifetime to fill in the gap in the Russian market, as they continue their joint efforts in critical areas such as 5G technology.

The conflict also highlighted the importance of establishing a reliable supply chain, allowing China to stand its ground and hold its title as the world’s largest semiconductor exporter. By strengthening its grip over one of the world’s most significant industries, the supply chain, specifically in leading industries such as manufacturing and electronics, China now has the most powerful advantages that would allow much more profound negotiations with other countries handling issues of trade and investment.

The Price of China’s Rise

A silent stance, but not so silent. If we are to look at Russia’s weakened position by the war in pillar industries, and how China managed to rise to the top, we understand the purpose behind such a political stance. Maybe for Beijing, the war was the lesser evil in order for it to rise to the top on a global and even regional scale, such as its ignited presence in the Middle East and Asia. 

The importance of China’s neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine war is a clear demonstration that Beijing sees and understands the value of keeping ensuring it always presents as a major world power with significant economic, technological, military, and diplomatic interests. The Chinese expansion that came following the conflict could potentially escalate the pre-existing tensions with the US, Europe, and other countries, as well as fortify Chinese relations with the destabilized Middle East, with the most prominent country being the KSA.

As Beijing continues to leverage its economic and technological influence, it will find itself in direct competition with other major players in this international geopolitical community. This conflict will provide it with the ideal opportunity to outreach its influence but will present risks of immense significance for the country’s future foreign policies.

As you read this, the day-to-day scenario might change, but the truth is, nothing will really change. Ideological and economic fractures will remain between China and the rest of the world until something fundamental changes.

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