Since February 24th, China has mostly sat on the fence in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of its territory. Beijing has adopted a strategy seemingly rooted in hedging, lending Moscow rhetorical and economic support but not crossing any red lines that might result in China facing Western sanctions. Hopes that China could play a mediating role to help bring the war to an early end have thus far been dashed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has invested a significant degree of personal capital in the Sino-Russian partnership, which has limited his room for manoeuvre so far. But with the CCP Congress in the rearview mirror, is Xi’s domestic position now more secure? Can Beijing afford to shift its approach toward the Russia-Ukraine war and rein in the Kremlin, especially if an increasingly desperate Vladimir Putin continues to signal his willingness to use nuclear weapons? And should the EU and the wider West make a “China play”, partially resetting relations with Beijing in hopes of altering Putin’s geopolitical calculus?
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