Last week, four days into the invasion, Russia used its seat on the United Nations Security Council to vote “no” and thus veto a resolution demanding Moscow end its military attack.
Among the other voting members, China voted to abstain rather than choose a side.
That non-decisive vote comes just weeks after China and Russia vowed to take on the world. Hours before the Beijing Olympics began, China’s president Xi Jinping shook hands and signed papers with Vladimir Putin to publicly announce the two countries were strengthening their cooperation over international finance and energy in a “new era” of partnership to challenge the U.S. and its allies.
China is Russia’s largest trading partner, and China gets approximately one-third of its oil and gas from Russia.
“Friendship between the two States has no limits,” a statement read. “There are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”
At the time, that cooperation surely included China supporting Russia invading Ukraine, which was then surrounded by 100,000-plus troops. The speculation of many was Putin would keep his army waiting until the peace-promoting Olympics concluded in a nod to the host country, China. The closing ceremonies came Feb. 20 and the Russian tanks began rolling across the border two days later.
“Putin wouldn't be doing this,” says Bob Maginnis, a national security analyst at the Family Research Council, “unless he had the support of Xi.”
Yet what a difference a week of war – and crippling sanctions, a plummeting ruble, dead civilians, and an awakened NATO – make. This week, according to news reports, China is now reaching out to Ukraine directly to express its concerns about the war. In a phone call, China’s foreign minister told his Ukrainian counterpart that Beijing “deeply regrets that conflict has broken out between Ukraine and Russia, and is paying extreme attention to the harm suffered by civilians.”
China brutal and corrupt CCP leaders don't care about the safety and harm of their own population, much less those in Ukraine, so skeptical analysts are watching as China attempts a tightrope walk in the middle of a war between two business partners. According to The Daily Mail, China is Ukraine’s largest trading partner and the two countries have good diplomatic ties.
Ukraine is also a key European ally in China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” which is Beijing’s long-term plan to increase its power and presence through trade.
"My sense is that [China's] initial instinct was to follow the 2014 post-annexation of Crimea playbook which worked quite well for them, where they managed to basically stay out of the fray and fade a little bit into the back," Helena Legarda, a China analyst based in Germany, told The Daily Mail. "People are watching a lot more carefully, and that 'We're not going to take sides, We're not going to take sides, and we're going to fade into the background', is no longer a viable option."
According to Bloomberg, the financial news outlet, two of China’s largest state-owned banks are currently restricting the purchase of Russian commodities.