Does Xi Jinping Have the Formula to Solve the war in Ukraine?
Xi Jinping meets with Vladimir Putin and appears to be the only global leader capable of facilitating a peace between Russia and Ukraine
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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Leer en español: ¿Tiene Xi Jinping la fórmula para solucionar la guerra en Ucrania?
The war in Ukraine seems to have no clear end in a short time. Today the Russian and Ukrainian forces appear to be at a standstill that does not allow any clear advance and makes military resolution impossible. However, the option of a negotiated exit seems even more difficult, but not impossible. Xi Jinping, the president of China, looms as the world leader capable of speaking into Putin's ear and being able to get an answer. But will it be enough?
This week, international newspapers showed how Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping met in Moscow. A clear sign of support from China to Russia, but the speech of a negotiated exit with the Asian giant as an intermediary and guarantor remains.
Jinping's visit to China was the first visit by the head of state to Russia since the start of the war, and the first outside his country since he was re-elected as head of the Chinese Communist Party. This symbolic fact demonstrates the importance of collaboration with Putin for the Chinese leader, and he sees in this conflict a way to position himself as a great world leader. The period of Chinese isolation was several decades behind, and this may be a case that gives China the relevance that the executive has been seeking since the arrival of Xi Jinping.
Alliance with Russia
Firstly, Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow shows clear support from both heads of state. Since the start of the war that has made Russia at odds with the West, China has found a privileged place from which it has been able to take advantage.
You can also read: How Likely is it that the International Criminal Court will Try Putin?
After Europe and Russia broke relations on energy issues, Russian gas is now going east. Despite years of commercial relations and the construction of various gas pipelines, the boycott of Moscow by many of his European clients for its invasion of Ukraine, made Putin look for new markets. China, with millions of factories hungry for energy to continue their production, was a clear destination.
China's Proposal for a Peaceful Exit
At the end of February, the Chinese government released a proposal with which China proposes a peaceful exit. The proposal consists of 12 points, among which these stand out:
- Ceasefire on both sides.
- Solve the humanitarian crisis
- Keep nuclear power plants safe.
- Stop unilateral sanctions.
However, the closeness that China has shown with Russia makes Ukraine doubt Beijing's intentions. This is why many view the intentions of the Asian giant with suspicion. However, the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelensky, has opted for caution and does not rule out Chinese mediation. However, the positions of both sides today are still very far from an intermediate point and the expectations to negotiate will have to give way enormously.
China in a Multipolar World
Traditionally, since the Second World War, the world has become a chess game between two superpowers. The United States and the Soviet Union (now Russia) controlled the international arena in what became known as the Cold War. This period consisted of trying to mobilize the countries towards 2 poles. However, after the failure of the Soviet superpower, the United States underwent a unique period of dominance. The West, commanded from Washington, assumed the leading role and a scenario more similar to a single pole was passed, and with Russia trying to generate some counterweight.
But today, with China's economic and military growth, the picture is changing again. This is what Xi Jinping is betting on today. Let Beijing create its own pole and try to stabilize the balance in the balance of power. A Chinese (diplomatic) victory in Ukraine would be the clear show of Asian power. It would be China that, from the other side of the world, manages to bring a solution to a conflict in the middle of Europe. It would imply a vision of a world in which the United States will no longer be the only one, nor the most indicated in resolving conflicts. Furthermore, it would be the beginning of a scenario in which, finally, China is equal to the United States. Even where Russia, the United States and China become the axes of world power with enough force to balance or unbalance any conflict.
For example, today the Chinese leader seems to be the only one capable of influencing Vladimir Putin. For the Russian president, the support of China is vital to maintain the economy due to the innumerable sanctions from the West. Additionally, Jinping will have to try to get more support from NATO, which is why the visit of Pedro Sánchez, President of the Spanish Government, will be important. If the Chinese leader manages to influence both sides, he will be able to achieve what seems far away today: peace in Ukraine. This would be a significant victory, especially after the coronavirus crisis that left China's image badly battered.