'China to play mediating role in Ukraine conflict' - RTHK
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'China to play mediating role in Ukraine conflict'

2024-05-17 HKT 12:45
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  • President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a tea ceremony in Beijing. Photo: Reuters
    President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a tea ceremony in Beijing. Photo: Reuters
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, was on Friday wrapping up his two-day state visit to China with a trip to the northeastern city of Harbin, which has historic ties with Russia.

He will join trade and investment talks there a day after a meeting in Beijing with President Xi Jinping, who told him that China-Russia relations should be "cherished and cared for" by both sides.

The two also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, with Putin saying he was grateful to China for trying to resolve the crisis over Ukraine.

And hours after Xi and Putin met, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that China could not "have its cake and eat it too" with regard to the West and Moscow.

"It can't have it both ways and want to have [better] relationships with Europe and other countries while simultaneously continuing to fuel the biggest threat to European security in a long time," Patel said, referring to the Ukraine conflict.

Speaking on RTHK's Backchat programme, Alan Lung, a political analyst and Co-convenor (International) of the Path of Democracy think tank, said he believes that China is looking to play a mediating role in the Ukraine conflict.

"There are only two countries in the world that doesn't need another country and that is the US and Russia because of its vast territory, but China cannot do that," he said.

"China has bigger stakes and has to cooperate with the West, and this is why China, I think Xi Jinping, desperately wants to, if possible, broker peace in Ukraine on behalf of Russia, on behalf of the Europeans."

On the same programme, Brian Yeung, who wrote a book on his time working in Russia, said he thinks China would not want the situation in Ukraine to undermine its ties with Europe.

"China might be the only, or at least the most important strategic partner to Russia," he said.

"Recently, Xi Jinping also visited Europe and had a very fruitful conversation with the French president. That also signals that China doesn't really want to mess up with Europe for the sake of the China-Russia relationship."

Xin Zhang, an associate professor at the School of Politics and International Relations at East China Normal University, said there are mixed opinions over the ongoing conflict, with some supporting Russia's narrative that the military operation is justified.

"There are also those who are very much on the pro-Ukraine side, looking at this as essentially a big power exploiting a small neighbouring power," he said.

"The situation is complicated. There was a long, complicated historical cause for this conflict to escalate to such a degree. I try to emphasise that China is not the direct party in the conflict, and we would love to see a peaceful resolution through political negotiation."

'China to play mediating role in Ukraine conflict'