What’s Really Behind the Chinese Strongman’s Moscow Visit

Xi Jinping is aiming to prop up his Kremlin ally, and more importantly his goal is to establish Communist China as the world’s top power and topple America from its long-held position.

Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP, file
Presidents Putin and Xi at Beijing, February 4, 2022. Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP, file

One item that Chairman XI is unlikely to pack as he prepares for his Moscow visit: Handcuffs to arrest his host in accordance with a warrant from the Hague. Riding on his overly hyped success in ending a millenia-old Sunni-Shia schism with a Saudi-Iranian pact, the Beijing strongman instead will seek what has proved to be an elusive goal: a peaceful ending to the Ukraine war.   

Far from actually pushing peace, though, Mr. Xi is aiming to prop up his Kremlin ally with his Moscow trip and plan for ending the war. More importantly, his goal is to establish Communist China as the world’s top power and topple America from its long-held position.

On Friday, the Hague-based International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against President Putin for the crime of “unlawful deportation of population [children] and that of unlawful transfer of population [children] from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.” More allegations of war crimes are expected to follow. 

Washington is divided over the ICC. Russia and Ukraine are not members, even though Kyiv has agreed to abide by the court. America also is not a member. According to the Rome statute, which established the court, the ICC lacks jurisdiction over countries that are not its members. 

While the White House and Department of State support involving the Hague in prosecuting war crimes committed in Ukraine, the Department of Defense is adamantly opposed. The Pentagon fears that by creating a precedent according to which the ICC could prosecute war criminals from non-member countries, it would go after Americans.   

At any rate, Mr. Putin shrugged off the dramatic Hague announcement. “Russia is not a participant of the Rome statute” and “has no obligations under it,” Moscow’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakgharova, said, adding that the ICC arrest warrant is “legally null and void for us.” 

As Communist China is another non-member, Mr. Xi will also likely ignore the court’s arrest warrant. He is scheduled to arrive at Moscow Monday for a three-day visit marking the 10th anniversary of his first Russian trip, which took place soon after he assumed office in 2012.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the ambitious Chinese strongman plans to follow up his Russian trip with a phone call to President Zelensky. Mr. Xi earlier issued a 10-point plan for peace in Ukraine, but Kyiv ignored it. His new initiative is similarly unlikely to make much headway. 

Beijing may not be “ready to arm Russia,” Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, told the BBC. Yet, he added, “nor do I think that this visit will result in peace.” Every war ends at the negotiating table, Mr. Kuleba said, “but my goal as a foreign minister is to make sure that Ukraine reaches the table after a defining success on the battlefield.”

In reality, Mr. Xi’s peace mission is a thinly disguised excuse to promote his broader goals, and chief among them is to assure that Mr. Putin survives the Ukraine war intact. 

“It’s ridiculous that anyone thinks China can be a peace broker,” a Ukraine watcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Ivana Strander, tells the Sun. “Putin and Xi are frenemies, but when it comes to the West they share the same interest: Both consider the West as their no. 1 enemy.”   

Washington has cited intelligence that Beijing is considering joining Tehran in sending arms to Russia, which Mr. Xi has adamantly denied. Yet, Beijing’s aid to Mr. Putin is indisputable: As America and European countries have hurt the Russian economy by imposing an oil embargo and other sanctions, China is propping up the Moscow regime economically. 

Communist China has been the largest buyer of Russian oil since the start of the Ukraine war, even with second place India surpassing it in the month of February. Beside propping up the stressed Moscow economy, purchasing a commodity that is under American-imposed sanctions advances a major goal for Beijing: weakening the supremacy of King Dollar in world markets. 

India started buying Russian oil recently in the United Arab Emirates’ dirham and other non-dollar currencies. China is purchasing Russian oil in yuan, and at a major discount to boot.

The recent Beijing-led deal to renew diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran is raising concerns that the Saudis, too, could switch to the Chinese currency, eventually ending a near century of the American dollar’s dominance in global oil transactions. 

Behind the pomp and circumstance accompanying his first Moscow visit since the start of the Ukraine war, Mr. Xi will strategize together with his host on how to further weaken American global influence. Beijing is the alpha male in that relation while Mr. Putin plays second fiddle. 

NATO members Poland and Slovakia announced this week they would transfer to Ukraine MiG 29 fighter jets. Rather than cautiously commending Mr. Xi’s Ukraine peace initiative and hyperventilating over symbolic war crime prosecutions, Washington would do best to join them.

Giving Ukraine American long-range missiles and other advanced arms could be decisive in defeating Mr. Putin in Ukraine, and in slowing down advances the Xi-led anti-American axis is making.

The New York Sun

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