What China Is Really Playing at in Ukraine


Imagine President Xi Jinping mustering undiluted Taoist patience to suffer through a phone call with that warmongering actor in a sweaty T-shirt in Kiev while attempting to teach him a few facts of life – complete with the promise of sending a high-level Chinese delegation to Ukraine to discuss “peace”.

There’s way more than meets the discerning eye obscured by this spun-to-death diplomatic “victory” – at least from the point of view of NATOstan.

The question is inevitable: what’s the point of this phone call? Very simple: just business.

The Beijing leadership is fully aware the NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is the un-dissociable double of an American direct war against the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Until recently, and since 2019, Beijing was the top trade partner for Kiev (14.4% of imports, 15.3% of exports). China essentially exported machinery, equipment, cars and chemical products, importing food products, metals and also some machinery.

Very few in the West know that Ukraine joined BRI way back in 2014, and a BRI trade and investment center was operating in Kiev since 2018. BRI projects include a 2017 drive to build the fourth line of the Kiev metro system as well as 4G installed by Huawei. Everything is stalled since 2022.

Noble Agri, a subsidiary of COFCO (China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation), invested in a sunflower seed processing complex in Mariupol and the recently built Mykolaiv grain port terminal. The next step will necessarily feature cooperation between Donbass authorities and the Chinese when it comes to rebuilding their assets that may have been damaged during the war.

Beijing also tried to become heavily involved in the Ukraine defense sector and even buy Motor Sich; that was blocked by Kiev.

Watch that neon

So what we have in Ukraine, from the Chinese point of view, is a trade/investment cocktail of BRI, railways, military supplies, 4G and construction jobs. And then, the key vector: neon.

Roughly half of neon used in the production of semiconductors was supplied, until recently, by two Ukrainian companies; Ingas in Mariupol, and Cryoin, in Odessa. There’s no business going on since the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO). That directly affects the Chinese production of semiconductors. Bets can be made that the Hegemon is not exactly losing sleep over this predicament.

Ukraine does represent value for China as a BRI crossroads. The war is interrupting not only business but, in the bigger picture, one of the trade and connectivity corridors linking Western China to Eastern Europe. BRI conditions all key decisions in Beijing – as it is the overarching concept of Chinese foreign policy way into mid-century.

And that explains Xi’s phone call, debunking any NATOstan nonsense on China finally paying attention to the warmongering actor.

As relevant as BRI being the overarching bilateral relationship dictating Beijing’s geopolitics: the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership.

So let’s transition to the meeting of Defense Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) earlier this week in Delhi.

The key meeting in India was between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese colleague Li Shangfu. Li was recently in Moscow, and was received by Putin in person for a special conversation. This time he invited Shoigu to visit Beijing, and that was promptly accepted.

Needless to add that every single player in the SCO and beyond, including nations that are for the moment just observers or dialogue partners as well as others itching to become full members, such as Saudi Arabia, paid very close attention to the Shoigu-Shangfu camaraderie.

When it comes to the profoundly strategic Central Asian “stans”, that represents the ‘six feet under’ treatment for the Hegemon wishful thinking of using them in a Divide and Rule scheme pitting Russia against China.

Shoigu-Shangfu also sent a subtle message to SCO members India and Pakistan – stop bickering, and in the case of Delhi, hedging your bets – and to full member (in 2023) Iran and near future member Saudi Arabia: here’s where’s it at, this the table that matters.

All of the above also points to the increasing interconnection between BRI and SCO, both under Russia-China leadership.

BRICS is essentially an economic club – complete with its own bank, the NDB – and focused on trade. It’s mostly about soft power. The SCO is focused on security. It’s about hard power. Together, these are the two key organizations that will be paving the multilateral way.

As for what will be left of Ukraine, it is already being bought by Western mega-players such as BlackRock, Cargill and Monsanto. Yet Beijing certainly does not count on being left high and dry. Stranger things have happened than a future rump Ukraine positioned as a functioning trade and connectivity BRI partner.



Featured image, Xi Jinping: https://chinamediaproject.org/2018/03/03/will-chinas-president-be-informed/

Featured image, Zelensky: https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3700986-zelensky-talks-to-xi-jinping.html


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1 Comment on What China Is Really Playing at in Ukraine

  1. China, India and Brazil vote AGAINST Russia at the UN.
    It comes sooner thant I thought, but Russia has certainly no ally in China, rather another parasite that wants to rule the world as new hegemon.
    I always predicted the Peoples of Europe would some day join Russia to fight the world dictatorship…

    Ukraine, Russie, monde global : que veut finalement ce “bel-ami” la Chine ?
    jeudi 27 avril 2023
    Karine Bechet-Golovko

    La Chine est entrée au centre de toutes les conversations, est l’objet de tous les fantasmes, faisant d’elle autant l’Ennemi N°1 des Etats-Unis et du monde global, que son plus grand soutien, tout en étant l'”ami” de la Russie et de l’intégrité territoriale de tous les pays, dont l’Ukraine. La seule certitude est qu’elle est le pays, qui prend un poids incontournable dans ce monde encore Ô combien global sur bien des aspects. Si l’on oublie les “amis”, qui n’existent pas en géopolitique, avec l’activisme chinois dans le cas du conflit ukrainien, il serait urgent d’analyser un peu plus froidement cette poussée géopolitique d’un pays, qui n’a pas de conflit idéologique avec la globalisation. Bien au contraire …
    Rappelons aussi, que c’est bien la Chine, qui est à la pointe du contrôle social, que personne n’a annulé et qui sert de modèle pour le monde global.

    Rappelons encore en passant, que c’est bien la Chine qui produit tout ce dont le monde global a besoin, en soutenant et formant cette vision d’un monde technologisé et déshumanisé.
    En ce sens, la Chine n’est pas un opposant au monde global, elle est en le coeur. Mais pas forcément l’esprit.

    Ainsi, le rapprochement de la Chine avec la Russie est intéressant, mais n’est pas univoque. Il serait bon que se défaisant lentement et difficilement d’une dépendance politico-psychologique occidentale, la Russie ne tombe pas avec les mêmes erreurs dans les bras de la Chine. Il est toujours surprenant, dans les différents événements politico-analytiques auxquels je peux assister ici, d’entendre régulièrement parler “d’amis”. Avec qui pouvons-nous être amis est la question, qui revient le plus souvent.

    Avec personne. Un Etat, qui se veut souverain et influent sur la scène internationale, n’a pas d’amis. Il a des partenaires et il a des concurrents. Lorsqu’il est en guerre, il a des ennemis et des alliés. Mais il n’a jamais d’amis. Les relations entre les Etats ne peuvent être à ce point subjectives et affectives, sans le mettre stratégiquement en danger. La Russie ne peut quitter ses “amis” européens pour trouver un “ami” en Chine. Ce serait illusoire et dangereux.
    La Chine est alliée avec la Russie sur certains points, mais elle suit son propre jeu, qui n’est pas celui de la Russie.
    Il faut donc prendre avec des pincettes cette dernière poussée “diplomatique” de la Chine en Ukraine, initiative par ailleurs saluée par la Maison Blanche américaine. L’on se souviendra, que lors de la visite du Président chinois en Russie, beaucoup de questions avaient tourné autour d’une discussion entre Xi Jinping et Zelensky, puis entre Poutine et Zelensky.

    Finalement, cette première conversation a eu lieu hier et la Chine a voulu se présenter comme un partenaire stratégique de l’Ukraine – “quelles que soient les circonstances internationales” (à noter). Le Président chinois insiste sur les négociations, unique voie pour arriver à la paix. Mais, il ne précise pas, puisqu’il s’agit d’un conflit armé, pour qui il s’agira d’une paix de victoire et pour qui d’une paix de défaite. Il tend à poser son pays presque comme un émissaire de la Russie, ce dont il n’a pas reçu mandat, et annonce envoyer un Haut-représentant en tournée mondiale :
    Les Ukrainiens sont aux anges, ils soutiennent la politique chinoise d’une Chine unique, veulent développer leurs relations avec elle. La porte-parole du ministère russe des Affaires étrangères, Maria Zakharova, rappelle toutefois quelques vérités premières : les plans de paix ne manquent pas, chacun y va du sien ; ce qu’il manque, c’est la volonté de paix. Ce que Vladimir Poutine avait déjà à Xi Jinping, qui continue de toute manière sur cette voie.

    Billet de déglobalisation : la Chine, l’Inde, le Brésil lâchent la Russie à l’assemblée générale de l’ONU
    Karine Bechet-Golovko
    mardi 2 mai 2023
    Le dernier vote de l’assemblée générale de l’ONU pour une résolution portant sur le renforcement des relations entre l’ONU et le Conseil de l’Europe, QUALIFIANT EN PRÉAMBULE LA RUSSIE DE PAYS AGRESSEUR EN EUROPE, vient d’être votée non seulement par la Chine, ce grand ami qui est censé pour certains optimistes permettre à la Russie de faire tomber le monde global, mais aussi par ce grand allié dans les BRICS qu’est le Brésil.

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