Weeks after facilitating a surprise rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, China has again grabbed global attention by showcasing its peace plan for ending the Ukraine war. President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia, described by both nations as an opportunity to deepen their ‘no-limits friendship’, underlines a sense of urgency on Beijing’s part to score diplomatic brownie points amid the prevailing geopolitical turbulence. In an article published in Russia’s state-run newspaper Russian Gazette on Monday, Xi has laid stress on ‘observing the principles of the UN Charter, respect for the legitimate security concerns of all countries and supporting all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis.’ With the world’s second-largest economy struggling to make a robust recovery, the Chinese President has also emphasised the need to ensure the stability of global industrial and supply chains.
The visit of his ‘dear friend’ Xi has buoyed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been on the defensive after the International Criminal Court recently issued an arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes. Reaffirming their time-tested ties, both Moscow and Beijing have denounced the court’s ruling. China remains firmly on Russia’s side, but at the same time it is keen to seize the initiative by projecting itself as a peace-maker — in stark contrast to its notorious reputation of being an aggressor and a bully. China is also trying to bolster its influence in Europe and undermine America’s position as a major stakeholder in the Ukraine war. Thus, Beijing is out to kill several birds with one stone.
India’s carefully calibrated tightrope walk has precluded its active involvement in bringing the warring sides to the negotiating table. New Delhi’s neutrality, however, is being put to the test, especially in view of the anti-Russia stand taken by fellow Quad members Japan, Australia and the US. With China throwing its hat into the ring, India will find itself under increasing pressure to make a meaningful intervention to reduce Russia-Ukraine hostilities. Remaining a mere bystander may no longer be an option for a country that aspires to become a global pacesetter.
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