Ukraine Crisis: Why has China maintained a low-profile status?

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

Despite the rhetoric of a strong friendship with Russia, China has chosen a low-profile strategy in the Ukraine-Russia war to protect its own interests as Beijing has shown little interest in providing Moscow with any actual economic lifelines, said a media report.

While China has refused to abandon Moscow or yield to US threats of secondary penalties for supporting Russia, the fact can be attributed to China not appreciating being told what to do, as said by Politburo member Yang Jiechi during his meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, reported Tibet Press.

However, contrary to its claims of kinship with Russia, China has curtailed Russia’s flexibility by blocking some financial transactions with it in some situations as China’s two major state banks, the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ceased activities dealing with Russian goods.

Moreover, China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and BRICS bank projects in Russia have been halted, while Beijing has closed its ports to Russian seafood, citing COVID-19 measures, reported the media outlet.

While Chinese smartphone manufacturers – Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei have cut their shipments to Russia in half, TikTok has also halted operations after Russian state media were blocked.

Furthermore, after being left with a near-monopoly following the major evacuation of Western and Japanese automakers from Russia, Chinese automakers like Haval have raised their prices by 50 per cent claiming logistics delays as the reason. However, according to a Russian business publication, this dramatic increase can be attributed to dwindling competition with market supply confined primarily to Russian and Chinese automobiles. The very instance goes against China’s claims of “no bounds” friendship with Russia.

China’s subtle isolation from Russia can be attributed to protecting its own interests as Beijing has recently come under international scrutiny, with a never-ending stream of US officials urging it to distance itself from Russia or suffer “consequences.” Despite being asked to mediate a truce between Russia and Ukraine, and Beijing openly proclaiming its determination to do so, China appears to be choosing a low-profile strategy, according to the media outlet.