Will China increase its support for Russia in the face of Ukraine?

Since the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24, the Chinese authorities have maintained a posture of benevolent neutrality vis-à-vis Russia. In accordance with official Chinese positions on the international scene, Beijing has repeatedly called for respect for the borders and territorial integrity of States, as well as for a negotiated solution. On the occasion of the 5th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which confirmed Xi Jinping's hold on the party and therefore on the country, the latter however significantly hardened his discourse vis-à-vis the United States and the West as a whole, particularly in the subject of Taiwan, and announced that an unparalleled effort would be made by the country to modernize the People's Liberation Army within the next XNUMX years (the length of the presidential term in China), posing a renewed and accentuated threat on the autonomous island claimed by Beijing as historical precedence. And according to the statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, in response to the congratulatory message sent by Vladimir Putin to his counterpart Xi Jinping on the occasion of his election to a third term, it seems that Beijing has committed an evolution of its positions in favor of a rapprochement with Moscow, including in the highly contested area of ​​the war in Ukraine.

According to the statement, and after the customary formulas to glorify the Chinese president, Wang Yi explains that China will strongly support the Sino-Russian partnership, but also Moscow's initiatives aimed at " overcoming difficulties, eliminating unrest, achieving strategic development goals and further establishing Russia's status as a great power in the international arena.“. And add " It is the legitimate right of China and Russia to achieve their own development and revitalization, which fully conforms to the development trend of the times. Any attempt to block the progress of China and Russia will never succeed.“, obviously creating a direct parallel between Russian territorial claims in Ukraine and those of Beijing concerning Taiwan, and de facto breaking with the posture followed until now by Chinese diplomacy.

XI Jinping XXth CPC Congress Military Alliances | Defense Analysis | Russian-Ukrainian conflict
The XXth Congress of the CPC allowed XI Jinping to control all the decision-making organs of the party, and to launch a major effort to modernize the People's Liberation Army

The fact is, the contradictions of the Chinese position have been largely underlined by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Indeed, officially, Beijing refuses any redefinition of international borders, and calls for the different territories to be resolved through negotiation. On the other hand, this position is set aside when it comes to Chinese ambitions, whether on the subject of the South China Sea, but also on Taiwan, Beijing stubbornly refusing, for example, that Taipei can organize a self-determination referendum, this constituting a casus belli for the Chinese authorities which would lead to the immediate triggering of a military operation. This posture is obviously incompatible with the Russian actions in Ukraine, the latter having not only carried out a military operation of conquest, but also justified the territorial gains by referendums, certainly artificial, but referendums all the same. However, for Beijing, it is also absolutely essential that Moscow emerges, if not victorious from this war, in any case by justifying at least territorial gains and a strategic move. And it seems that this last aspect has taken precedence over traditional Chinese public positions.

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