Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived on the 20th of March 2023 in Russia to talk to President Putin about Chinese-Russian relations and the war in Ukraine. President Xi stayed for two days and had several official talks. The visit came the day after an arrest warrant was issued for Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (UN News, 2023). This being the case, although neither Russia nor China are members of the Court, this seemed to put Putin under a lot of pressure in terms of meeting the positive expectations for the outcome of the meetings.
Simultaneously, China has not yet revealed any clear position regarding the war in Ukraine. As part of this ambiguous position, in February, the Chinese government published a plan on how to resolve peace in Ukraine (Freeman et al., 2023). Yet, nothing concrete was proposed apart from the general push for both sides of the conflict to remember their obligations to international law in terms as far as mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, 2023). At the same time, the US warned that China might be sending weapons soon to Russia to support their efforts in the war (Freeman et al., 2023).
In a great PR action, President Xi appeared to be impressed and congratulated Putin for the development in his country, claiming to be convinced that the Russian citizens would elect him again in the next 2024 democratic election (Tagesschau, 2023). This statement resulted in some media-related controversy in Russia since Putin has not yet announced his candidacy (Lemaître & Ruisseau, 2023). Overall, for the internal audience of both states, the visit was presented as a success and a reason for China and Russia to get closer and diminish the power of the US, which is unipolar and superior to them. It is most likely that Western states will take this into consideration while hoping that China will not aid Russia’s war efforts with weapons and munitions.
About the Author
Louisa von Klinggräff holds a Master’s in International Relations and International Security from the University of Gröningen and is currently a Finabel Research Trainee.
Freeman, C., Glantz, M. & Scobell, A. (2023, March 2). What China’s ‘Peace Plan’ Reveals about its Stance on Russia’s War on Ukraine. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 29 March 2023, from https://www.usip.org/publications/2023/03/what-chinas-peace-plan-reveals-about-its-stance-russias-war-ukraine.
Lemaître, F. & Ruisseau, N. (2023, March 21). China’ Xi throws support behind Putin during Russia visit. Le Monde. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://www.lemonde.fr/en/international/article/2023/03/21/china-s-xi-throws-support-behind-putin-during-russia-visit_6020171_4.html.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. (2023, February 24). China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. Retrieved 29 March 2023, from https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/202302/t20230224_11030713.html.
Tagesschau. (2023, March 21). Xis Staatsbesuch in Moskau: China will „fest an Seite Russland stehen“. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/europa/xi-putin-russland-china-101.html.
UN News. Russia: International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Putin. (2023, March 17). Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/03/1134732.