The editorial answers you | Will China make Putin back down?

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Posted yesterday at 4:00 p.m.

Alexandre Sirois

Alexandre Sirois
The Press

I wonder if the only person to hold Putin back would be the President of China, who sees the collapse of the world economy by this conflict.

Alain Samson

China is Moscow’s strongest ally, that’s for sure. It is therefore reasonable to hope that its president, Xi Jinping, will end up putting all his weight in the balance to convince Vladimir Putin to put an end to this bloody conflict.

The problem is that China shares many of the Russian regime’s grievances with the West. Let’s not forget: the two countries are run by autocrats, who believe that their model is in competition with that of Western democracies.

And in Beijing as in Moscow, we abhor Western military alliances – like NATO. Let us remember that on the sidelines of the Beijing Olympics, where Vladimir Putin was welcomed with full honors, the two countries issued a statement to urge “the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon its ideologized approaches dating from the war cold”. The message sent to the West was clear!

“Furthermore, China has been seen to contribute to Russia’s disinformation campaign by repeating Moscow’s public statements and blaming NATO for the attack on Ukraine,” said Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, China from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.

“It is highly unlikely that Beijing will do anything that could help NATO or Western countries that are helping Ukraine,” she adds.

The expert adds that President Xi “will only do what is in China’s long, medium and short-term interests. And it is in China’s interest to do all it can to portray NATO in a weak state.”

Even the heinous Boutcha massacre did not convince China to condemn Moscow. “Before the results of the investigation are released, all parties should exercise restraint and avoid baseless accusations,” a Chinese diplomatic spokesman said last Wednesday.

Then, the next day, China denounced the expulsion of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

Beijing, let’s not forget, recently publicly asserted that its friendship with Moscow was “unlimited”.

That said, we also see, from the way China has behaved since the start of the war in Ukraine, that it does not want to alienate Western democracies either.

China is certainly aware of the risks posed by the conflict to the world economy, but also of those that its position entails with regard to its trade with Western countries.

” [Les Chinois] support Moscow less and less strongly because they are beginning to realize that they risk coming out of all this weakened and that it is creating problems that will make the leadership and the re-election of Xi Jinping very more difficult,” says Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China.

In sum, contrary to what Beijing has said, there may be some limits to its partnership with Moscow.

Can we believe that the longer the war lasts and the more brutal it becomes, the more China could be inclined to put pressure on Moscow for a way out of the crisis?

This is at least what Western countries should try to make the Chinese president understand, believes Guy Saint-Jacques.

According to him, the message to convey to Xi Jinping should be summed up as follows: “The question you will have to ask yourself is whether it is more important for Vladimir Putin to save face or whether it is more important for you. , especially if the impact of this crisis on the Chinese economy is such that it will undermine your chances of having a third term and accomplishing all your projects! »

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