By Dr. Jianli Yang – April 5, 2023

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping’s high-profile diplomatic manoeuvres in recent months, in particular his three-day visit to Moscow in March, have shed light on his geostrategic calculations and goals regarding the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as well as the global order. Trying to crack the transatlantic alliance is one of China’s strategies to achieve these goals, writes Jianli Yang.

Xi is convinced that China is tightly locked in an open-ended competition with the United States, the outcome of which will shape the future world order and determine his own political legacy. Xi’s primary goal, starting with playing the Russia card, is to form and solidify a global anti-American alliance with a “new rules”-based world order that extends from Eurasia to the Middle East and beyond. Although the CCP claims that Xi’s visit to Moscow was a peacemaking trip, the Chinese leader displayed more interest in showcasing China’s growing friendship with Russia than in making peace. Meanwhile, China is assiduously trying to create the right conditions to mediate the Russian-Ukrainian war in accordance with the CCP’s wishes—on the heels of stunningly brokering a Saudi détente with Iran.

Despite Beijing’s openly pro-Russian stance, China has positioned itself as a potential key mediator in the Russian-Ukrainian war. Understanding that the differences between the two sides in the conflict are now too great to resolve, and aware of Ukraine’s and its Western allies’ distrust of China, Beijing is not rushing to try to bring Russia and Ukraine together for negotiations. Indeed, so far, Xi Jinping has shown no interest in travelling to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, or even to have a telephone conversation with him. Xi’s goals are to end the war in a way that preserves Vladimir Putin’s regime, secure for China postwar economic opportunities for Ukraine’s reconstruction and Russia’s recovery, and weaken the U.S.-led democratic world. Even if these aims prove beyond its reach, it will continue to provide Moscow with an economic lifeline, diplomatic support, and even military assistance to ensure that Russia is not defeated and that the West continues to drain its military, economic and political resources-as the protracted war shows few signs of abating.

For Xi, a Russian defeat in the conflict would be unacceptable—not only because it would embolden the U.S. and its allies, but also because it would likely lead to the collapse of Putin’s regime, which, in turn, could be a precursor to the emergence of a more pro-Western Kremlin. In that event, not only would Beijing lose a bulwark in the new Cold War with Washington, but the latter would try to play the Russia card to influence China, in a mirror image of the U.S.–China–Soviet strategic triangle of the 1970s… [Continue Reading]