China Dividends and Russia-Ukraine Conflict. Russia’s escalating tensions with Ukraine and NATO will naturally affect China’s Belt and Road projects. China is currently both Russia and Ukraine’s largest trading partner. What dividends China will gain in this conflict and what risks will it face is of concern.
China Dividends and Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Tensions are rising as Russia continues to line up its troops along the Ukrainian border. Russia and Ukraine are starting to pay attention to how China will respond in the crisis.
Onshore Belt and Road may be affected
Russia’s conflict zone with Ukraine and NATO happens to be where China’s Belt and Road Initiative and commodity shipments pass. A considerable part of the China Railway Express runs from Russia through Belarus, and then enters the European hinterland from Poland. The Lukashenko regime in Belarus is currently standing completely with Putin. Many Ukrainian political analysts say Ukraine’s border with Belarus is now increasingly seen as a major direction for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Large-scale military exercises between Belarus and Russia are about to begin. Large Russian troops carrying various equipment are arriving in Belarus from the Far East and Siberia to gather locally. A Ukrainian military general told a news conference in the capital Kyiv on January 24 that around February 20, when the Beijing Winter Olympics ended and the Russian-Belarusian military exercises ended, Russia was most likely to launch an invasion of Ukraine.
There is also a portion of Chinese goods arriving in Germany from the Russian port of St. Petersburg via the Baltic Sea. Russia has rail and road transport links with Ukraine, and with the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, which are members of NATO. In the future, NATO is likely to increase its troops to strengthen the defense of its eastern flank and the Baltic Sea region, and Russia will also respond later. As the tension escalates, the security of Chinese goods and goods transportation will naturally be put on the agenda.
Another option for land transport of Chinese goods to Europe is from Xinjiang via Kazakhstan to Russia, or from Kazakhstan across the Caspian Sea via the South Caucasus into the European hinterland. But Kazakhstan’s recent political turmoil has raised doubts about the reliability of the line. Therefore, some Russian political analysts believe that China may be forced to rely more on sea routes and use the Strait of Malacca, which China considers to be a geopolitical risk.
A Russian military analyst in Prague said that various thorny problems in China are now piled up, and Europe is China’s most important trading partner. From this perspective, China, as a major trading country, may be reluctant to see Putin and Ukraine. Fight with NATO.
Will China benefit no matter how the situation develops?
Among some groups of political analysts who have criticized Putin, the prevailing view is that if Putin can gain the upper hand in this gamble, it will encourage China to confront the West and even attack Taiwan. But if Putin loses, Russia’s power will be weakened, which will help China to covet more resource-rich Siberia and the Far East in the future.
But in any case, the escalation of Putin’s confrontation with NATO and Ukraine will prompt the United States to divert resources and military forces from the Asia-Pacific region surrounding China to Eastern Europe, so these analysts believe that China may be happy to see the United States focus more on Russia. confrontation.
Many Russian commentators also believe that the invasion of Ukraine, or posing as an invasion, is just a tool for Russia to pressure the United States to make concessions at the negotiating table. Other pressure tools include hacking, or getting closer to China. They believe that Russia’s ultimate goal is to reach a deal with the United States. In that case, the Eastern European region around Russia will become calmer, the United States will focus more on China’s surrounding areas, and Russia can watch the US-China fight and win the most vantage point.
Many of the strategic analysts who hold these positions have pro-official backgrounds in the deals Russia wants to strike with the U.S. that could involve security in the eastern European region, as well as securing Russian influence in Ukraine. They believe that Russia has extensive experience in dealing with the United States for a long time. In the Cold War era, after each round of escalation of confrontation between the two sides, the next step is to ease the relationship. This argument is also supported by the fact that Russia and the United States are currently interacting frequently on many levels.
Russian strategic scholar Suslov said in a recent interview on YouTube channel that although the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year was criticized a lot, it would allow the U.S. to devote more power to China’s periphery. The strategic vision and courage of the Biden team to make unpopular decisions. It is precisely from this perspective that Russia sees the hope of reaching a deal and compromise with the United States, and is optimistic and confident about it.
But some critics who oppose this view argue that, just as the major warring countries in the First World War did not want to actually fight a war, the current risk is that the situation may get out of control, and Putin is using those so-called pressure Tools are also playing a very risky game.
China-Ukraine-Russia triangular relationship
China has been Ukraine’s largest trading partner for three consecutive years. Ukrainian agricultural exports are increasingly dependent on the Chinese market. China has also been Russia’s largest trading partner for many years. Agricultural products have become another major Russian export to China in the past two or three years. In the field of agricultural products, Russia and Ukraine compete with each other in the Chinese market.
Although Ukraine is an ally of the United States, and has begun to guard against China in the field of security, and the two sides still have disputes over the acquisition of Motor-Sich Engine Company, the two countries still signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of Ukrainian infrastructure last summer. It shows the importance Beijing attaches to Ukraine, an Eastern European country with vast land.
Ukraine has already joined China’s One Belt One Road project and has a positive attitude. But unlike many other countries, Russia, China’s main ally, has so far not joined the Belt and Road Initiative. Russia has only mentioned that it needs to connect the Eurasian Economic Community dominated by Moscow with the Belt and Road Initiative.
China has so far emphasized its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Beijing also did not stand with Putin’s authorities on the issue of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Neither Russia nor Ukraine expects much from China in this conflict
country support. China’s position is likely to be neutral, and Beijing is unlikely to take sides, said an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office who just resigned.
Many political analysts in Ukraine say that China, which also has a history of aggression by Russia and other powers, should sympathize with Ukraine at this time. From this perspective, Ukraine should pay attention to China’s actions, and diplomatically, Ukraine should not put all its bets on relations with the United States and Europe. In addition, the prolonged economic downturn requires Ukraine to develop trade and investment with China.
Ukrainian political scientist Berg Repinski said that although Ukraine now has to consider the position of the United States when providing sensitive advanced technology to China, Ukraine still attaches great importance to developing relations with China.
Berg Repinski: “Whether it is the new regime in Ukraine or the old regime, they are all interested in expanding relations with China. This is especially reflected in the economic and trade field. Ukraine especially hopes that China can invest in Ukraine.”
It is worth mentioning that the setback of China’s attempt to control the Ukrainian Motor-Sich engine company also makes Russia secretly happy. Some Russian military and political analysts believe that this will help prevent and delay China’s acquisition of advanced aircraft engine technology, so that China has to buy Russian aircraft engines and continue to rely on Russia.