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War in Ukraine. China’s attitude and the reaction of the West – publication of the magazine “Foreign Affairs”

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The American magazine “Foreign Affairs” assessed that the firm reaction of the West and its allies in the world to the Russian aggression against Ukraine showed China the importance of international coalitions and proved that severe sanctions can be imposed not only on small economies.

The authors of the publication in the magazine “Foreign Affairs” assessed China’s position on war in Ukraine as “Beijing straddle”. On the one hand, the authorities China they generally refused Russia selling arms and helping circumvent sanctions, because access to global markets is more important to them than economic ties with Moscow.

On the other hand, Beijing also wanted to “eat its cake and have it too”, supporting propaganda justifications for Russian aggression, coordinating diplomatic efforts with Moscow, taking advantage of Russian oil price cuts, and expanding economic cooperation in areas not covered by sanctions. In 2022, the value of China’s trade with Russia increased by 34.3 percent. to a record $190 billion.

“These steps required sacrifices, and the West suffered a real cost”

The Chinese authorities are closely watching the reaction of the West to Russian aggression, especially in the context of sanctions. Beijing realizes that if tensions in its relations with the West continue to escalate, such economic weapons may one day be used against it, such as in a war for Taiwan – assessed “FA”.

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Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin Li Xueren/Photoshot/PAP/EPA

The magazine stressed that China’s extensive campaigns of sanctions, export restrictions and investment restrictions have so far not affected China, as they tended to target smaller economies such as Iran or Iraq, or even marginal economies such as Cuba, North Korea or Sudan. “No economy the size of Russia has been subjected to such measures since World War II,” Foreign Affairs reported.

“These steps have taken sacrifices, and the West has suffered real costs in the form of inflation, higher energy bills and gas shortages. But so far, with the help of a mild winter, the coalition has held up. The conclusion for policymakers in Beijing is clear: a serious threat to the international order could really cause a very painful economic response, even if it will be costly for the sanctioning countries.

“Foreign Affairs” on “the most valuable weapon in the American economic arsenal”

At the same time, it was pointed out that both Russia and China have been preparing for Western sanctions for years, trying to become independent of international financial systems and institutions. While China succeeds to a greater extent than Russia, they too are faced with the fact that in today’s interconnected world, total immunity to sanctions is impossible, they assessed.

BeijingShutterstock

But the most important sanctions lesson China can learn from the current situation is the importance of international coalitions. “Washington has enormous clout when it uses American technology, financial markets and the dollar. But sanctions against Russia would have only a fraction of the effect (and Russia would have many ways to circumvent them) if it wasn’t for a joint effort with Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea South, Taiwan, Great Britain and the European Union.

The magazine also assessed that Beijing can use its economy and market to try to put pressure on individual trading partners, but it does not have a coalition comparable to the one created by Washington. The conclusion for the Chinese authorities is therefore less about the economy and more about diplomacy and relations with other countries. A similar conclusion can be drawn from this for the US: in the event of a confrontation with China, the most valuable weapon in the American economic arsenal will be the power of international partnerships, the authors of the article assessed.

Main photo source: Li Xueren/Photoshot/PAP/EPA



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