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China’s mediation capabilities shouldn’t be overestimated, says analyst

After a telephone call between Chinese and Ukrainian Presidents on April 26 voices commenting on the topic can be heard. One is Associate Professor Alfred Wu from the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University in Singapore.

Alfred Wu said “In this mediation process, China is believed to play a positive role, but we should not overestimate its mediation capabilities. First of all, China’s relationship with Russia is very deep. Currently, Russia also considers China as its most important ally. When China’s leaders go abroad, Russia is always a significant destination. Including the recent visit of China’s Minister of National Security, who also went to Russia for the first time. Therefore, China and Russia are already strong allies, and China’s neutrality in this mediation process may be questioned.”

“Of course, from Ukraine’s perspective, any mediation is better than none, and they hope that China can persuade Putin. However, in reality, it may be more complicated. It is uncertain whether China can persuade Putin or whether Xi Jinping can influence Putin. It’s very questionable. Nonetheless, in any case, my opinion remains the same: talking is better than fighting. China can communicate with both sides and convey different messages, which is better than maintaining a state of war.”

Another expert, geopolitical strategist, and advisor Brian Wong expressed his thoughts on the matter, saying

“This is the first direct interaction between the two leaders since Xi and Zelenskyy spoke in early 2022 before the invasion occurred. And nevertheless, you know, what’s also worth highlighting here is that this literally was in many ways a response to, you know, increasing pressures from both European partners and also members of the BRICS. And they’re aligning with China over the cease-fire proposal that China could offer some delivery, demonstrating the efficacy and viability of the China way, so to speak.”

“So I think there’s a fair bit of pressure on Beijing, but ultimately, the ball’s in the court, the leadership in China, and as it stands, they obviously sort of fit and [it’s] appropriate to intervene at this critical moment. Not so much in my view due to the recent remarks made by Lu Shaye, Chinese Ambassador to France and Monaco. I do not see that as a determinative factor. And instead what’s more important is clearly an overarching campaign to woo Europe and utterly cut support from other supporting allies of the non-American West in demonstrating to them that China, indeed they’re sincere and also is committed to furthering peace in Ukraine.”

“The first is that Xi’s phone call is likely a signal to Putin and Russia that China is not likely to take an overwhelmingly and unequivocally rhetorically supportive position in relation to Russia without also asking of them for some attempts on the part of Putin and Kremlin to figure out what, exactly upfront they want it.”

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